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Politics Egypt’s Military Dissolves Parliament; Calls For Vote


Jan 6, 2005
Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada
February 13, 2011

Egypt’s Military Dissolves Parliament; Calls for Vote


CAIRO — The Egyptian military consolidated its control Sunday over what it has called a democratic transition from three decades of President Hosni Mubarak’s authoritarian rule, dissolving the country’s feeble parliament, suspending the constitution and calling for elections in six months in sweeping steps that echoed protesters’ demands.

The statement by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, read on television, effectively put Egypt under direct military authority, thrusting the country into territory uncharted since republican Egypt was founded in 1952. Though enjoying popular support, the military must now cope with the formidable task of negotiating a post-revolutionary landscape still basking in the glow of Mr. Mubarak’s fall but beset by demands to ameliorate hardships that percolated across Cairo on Sunday.

Since seizing power from Mr. Mubarak on Friday, the military has sought to strike the right note, responding in words and action to the platform articulated by hundreds of thousands in Tahrir Square. But beyond more protests, there is almost no check on the sweep of military rule, and while opposition leaders welcomed the moves some have quietly raised worries about the role of the army in Egypt’s future.

But others were more optimistic. Ayman Nour, who lost to Mr. Mubarak in the 2005 election, said that the military’s actions should be enough to satisfy the protesters, some of whom nevertheless refused to leave Tahrir Square and resisted soldiers’ attempts to evict them.

The statement did not address another major opposition demand to lift emergency rule. In previous statements, the council had promised to take that step once the security situation improved. Confirming earlier statements, the council said that the civilian cabinet would remain in place over the next six months, though it did not rule out further ministerial changes.

The military said it would form a committee to amend the constitution, which includes the emergency law despised by many protesters, and that the amendments would be approved by popular referendum. While opposition leaders had pledged to layout proposals for a transitional government on Sunday, they canceled a news conference and offered no timetable for disclosing their plans.

But even as calm seemed to be settling over Egypt, antigovernment demonstrations erupted in Yemen, with protesters clashing violently with security forces on Sunday. A small group tried to rush the palace of President Ali Abdullah Saleh but were beaten back by riot police.
Cairo on Sunday witnessed scenes that juxtaposed a more familiar capital with a country forever changed by the fall of Mr. Mubarak on Friday.

Hundreds of policemen, belonging to one of the most loathed institutions in Egypt, rallied in downtown Cairo to demand better pay and treatment, while a short walk away, traffic returned to Tahrir Square, a symbol of the revolution, navigating through lingering protesters and jubilant sightseers, many of whom flocked to pictures of dead protesters that hung from clotheslines at one end of the square.

The police, civilians and soldiers with guns slung over their shoulders arranged themselves in human chains, in an ad hoc effort at crowd control aimed at keeping the crowds from spilling into traffic.

In a burst of civic duty, youthful volunteers swept streets, painted fences and curbs, washed away graffiti that read, “Down with Mubarak,” and planted bushes in a square many want to turn into a memorial for the greatest uprising in modern Egyptian history. Soldiers drove a truck mounted with speakers that blared, “Egypt is my beloved.”

“Egypt is my blood,” said Oummia Ali, a flight attendant for EgyptAir who skipped work to paint the square’s railing green. “I want to build our country again.”

As she spoke, a boisterous crowd marched down the street away from Tahrir Square, Liberation in Arabic and named for the fall of the Egyptian monarchy in 1952. “Let’s go home,” they chanted, “we got our rights.” Though hundreds, perhaps more vowed to stay until more reforms were enacted, tents were dismantled, banners taken down and trucks piled with blankets that kept protesters warm over the 18 days of demonstrations that began Jan. 25, the date organizers have given to their revolution.

The military’s statement was the clearest elaboration yet of its plans for Egypt, as the country’s opposition forces, from the Muslim Brotherhood to labor unions, seek to build on the momentum of the protests and create a democratic system with few parallels in the Arab world. The moves to suspend the constitution and to dissolve parliament, chosen in an election deemed a sham even by Mr. Mubarak’s standards, were expected. It said it would form a committee to draft constitutional amendments — pointedly keeping it in its hands, not the opposition’s — though it promised to put them before a referendum.

The statement declared that Egypt’s defense minister, Field Marshal Tantawi Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, would represent the country abroad and that the supreme command would issue laws in the transitional period before elections.

It remains unclear whether the opposition will be content to see leading figures from the Mubarak cabinet, like Vice President Omar Suleiman and Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq, preside over the transition. In its statement, the Supreme Council said it would determine Mr. Suleiman’s role in the coming days.

The impact of Egypt’s uprising continued to ripple across the Arab world as protesters turned out not just in Yemen but in Algeria, where the police arrested leading organizers. The Palestinian leadership responded by announcing that it planned to hold presidential and parliamentary elections by September. And in Tunisia, which inspired Egypt’s uprising, hundreds demonstrated to cheer Mr. Mubarak’s ouster.

Reporting was contributed by David D. Kirkpatrick, Kareem Fahim, Mona El-Naggar, Dawlat Magdy and Scott Nelson from Cairo Thomas Fuller from Tunis and J. David Goodman from New York



1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
They delivered on their promise in no time flat. Let's see if US politicos can learn some time-management skills from the Supreme Military Council.:)