CAIRO, (Reuters) – Egyptian activists converged on downtown Cairo on Friday for a demonstration to press military rulers to speed up the transfer of power to civilians and revoke emergency laws once used by ousted President Hosni Mubarak against his opponents.
Activists said they expected thousands to heed their call to join protests dubbed “Reclaiming the Revolution,” amid growing discontent with the way the military council has been managing the country’s transition.
The military council has announced that parliamentary elections will start on November 28 with a mixed system of proportional representation and individual lists. Most political groups fear the system will allow Mubarak supporters to return to office.
“This week is different because we feel that our revolution has been stolen from us,” said Yasser Fouad, an unemployed 38-year-old, his voice drowned out by loudspeakers urging people to ensure the protest remained peaceful.
“None of our demands have been achieved. We want them to hand over power immediately through elections,” Fouad said.
Mahmoud Sayyid Saif, 58, who works at the Health Ministry, said Egyptians would no longer put up with inaction. “It has been seven months, and nothing has been achieved,” he said.
The ruling military council has warned demonstrators against attacking public facilities. The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest political force, said it would not join the protest.
Six presidential hopefuls joined forces on Thursday in pressing the military council to set March as the deadline for the peaceful transfer of power.
They also declared that the state of emergency legally expired on Friday. The military council has said it will stay in force until next year.
“The state of emergency in place now will come to an end on September 30, 2011, in accordance with article 59 of the constitutional decree, and any decision or judicial ruling issued after September 30, 2011 based on the state of emergency will be null of any legal or constitutional legitimacy,” the presidential candidates’ statement said.
They also demanded reactivation of a law dating back to the 1950s that criminalizes abuse of office, to make it possible to try remnants of the Mubarak regime and “render them incapable of sneaking back to the seats of the legislative authority.”
Some 60 political parties issued a joint statement earlier this week with similar demands. They also gave the military council until Sunday to amend election laws to allow political parties to also compete for seats allocated to individuals.
Egypt’s Al-Akhbar newspaper reported on Friday that the government was considering the request.