Monday, June 4, 2012

Egyptian opposition groups call for mass protests over Mubarak appeal

Revolutionary forces demand mass demonstrations in Cairo as deposed president announces appeal and row grows over polls.

Egyptian opposition and revolutionary forces have called for a million-strong demonstration in Tahrir Square to denounce the verdict in the trial of the former president, Hosni Mubarak, and protest against the candidacy of his prime minister in the election run-off.

The vote will see the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, Mohamed Morsi, challenge Mubarak's ally, Ahmed Shafik, for the presidency after the first round of elections saw them come first and second.

However, the third-, fourth- and seventh-placed candidates, Hamdeen Sabahy, Abdel-Moneim Abul-Futoh and Khaled Ali, have cast doubt on the legality of the first round and issued a joint statement claiming electoral fraud in the first round. The three losing candidates met with Morsi on Monday to consider ways to proceed.

The idea of a joint presidential council has been proposed by Ali, which would ignore the elections and its results. Sabahy has filed a legal complaint in an attempt to void the results of the first round, hoping that a ruling would force the polls to be repeated.

Morsi still has a chance to win the election, however, making the Brotherhood reticent about joining forces with the other candidates and forgoing the elections. Rather, it would prefer to have the other candidates' backing for Morsy in round two.

Michael Hanna, a fellow at the Century Foundation thinktank, said: "There's obvious anger with regards to the [Mubarak] verdicts among certain sectors, but in a recurring theme, it's difficult to see how this might be translated into effective political actions."

The failure to reach a unified front is fragmenting the opposition and weakening its position.

All of the candidates agree to oppose Shafik, suggesting a victory for him would signal a return of the Mubarak regime and its oppressive security apparatus. Shafik, however, insists his policies represent a break with the past.

There is also anger at the Mubarak trial verdict, which saw the deposed leader sentenced to life in prison but spared the death penalty over the killing of protesters during the street revolt that ended his three-decade rule.

Source : Guardian


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