Protesters have begun trickling into Cairo’s iconic protest grounds, Tahrir Square, to kick off the “Friday of Departure” – a million man march to the Ministry of Defence planned by forty Egyptian parties and movements calling for a speedy handover of power.
Participants in Friday’s march demand that the ruling junta, the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF), release a timetable for the transfer of power to a civil authority. They also reject a recent announcement by the SCAF opening the door for candidates to register themselves for presidential elections on 10 March. Protesters, rather, demand that the window for registration open no later than 11 February – the first anniversary of the ouster of president Hosni Mubarak. Activists have also communicated their refusal of drafting a new constitution or holding presidential elections under military rule and ask that the ruling junta step down from power immediately.
The participating groups call on the ruling military council to cease its use of violence against protesters and to comprehensively restructure the reviled Ministry of Interior. Furthermore, those responsible for the killing of protesters during Egypt’s recurrent street battles between police and protesters must be put on trial and held to account.
Following Friday prayers – at around 1pm, ten different marches are expected to set off for the Ministry of Defence from the following locations: Youssef Al-Sahabi Mosque in Hegaz Square; Rabaa Al-Adaweya Mosque in Nasr City; Matariya Square, Alf Maskan Square and Sheikh Mosque in Hadayek Al-Kobba; Cleopatra Church in Heliopolis; Al-Fath Mosque in Ramses Square; Al-Khazindar Mosque in Shubra; Orabi Bridge in Shubra Al-Kheima; and Al-Nedir Mosque in Al-Zawiya Al-Hamra.
A planned anti-SCAF march on the defence ministry in July of last year was thwarted when military police sealed all entrances to Cairo's Abbasiya district, eventually leading to limited clashes between protesters and security forces.