A protester flashes a victory sign in front of a line of army soldiers near the cabinet during December's clashes after the army dispersed a sit-in(File Photo: Reuters)
A group of 36 political parties and movements have announced plans to launch an open-ended sit-in outside Egypt's People's Assembly on 9 February in the event that the newly-elected parliament fails to meet their demands for early presidential elections and the prosecution of those found responsible for killing unarmed political protesters.
The group of parties and movements, which have dubbed the initiative "One Demand Saturday," are calling on parliament to begin accepting presidential nominations on 11 February so as to produce an elected president within 60 days of that date.
On Tuesday, hundreds took part in protest marches from various districts of the capital to the People's Assembly in hopes of ratcheting up pressure on the Islamist-led parliament to adopt the initiative. In the afternoon, hundreds of activists set out from Cairo University, Cairo's Maspero district and the nearby Saad Zaghloul Mausoleum towards the People's Assembly.
The assembly, meanwhile, convened on Tuesday in the presence of Prime Minister Kamal El-Ganzouri and other ministers, including Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim.
Egypt's ruling military council, however, appears insistent on holding presidential elections in June as scheduled, following the drafting of a new constitution. Revolutionary political forces, for their part, have challenged the military's stance on the issue, pressing instead for early presidential polls with the stated aim of preventing the military's domination over the drafting process.
Signatories to the initiative include the Coalition of Revolutionary Forces, the April 6 youth movement (Democratic Front), the Revolutionary Youth Coalition, the Revolutionary Youth Union, the Kazaboon ("Liars") campaign, the Maspero Youth Union, the Popular Movement for the Independence of Al-Azhar, the Maspero Media Revolutionaries, and the Revolutionary Socialists.
Political parties that support the appeal include the liberal Egypt Freedom Party founded by MP Amr Hamzawy, the moderate-Islamist Wasat Party, the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, and the Egyptian Current Party.
In a related development, the National Association for Change (NAC) reform movement announced another initiative on Tuesday that calls for the election of an interim president – who would only serve for a one-year term –within two months of 11 February. The NAC initiative also calls for the dismantlement of the Shura Council (the upper, consultative house of Egypt's parliament) and the cancellation of ongoing Shura polls with the aim of speeding up the transitional phase.