Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Freedom for Egypt: but first...

Egypt remains in turmoil, and as usual much of that is self-inflicted.

The grand hopes of the last year's uprising; the sudden abandonment of Hosni Mubarak's government, first to 'people power', but then to the political wolves; a central government headed for bankruptcy, under the unsteady leadership of the SCAF military council; the murderous turn by the newly encouraged Islamist movement against the Coptic minority, and November's parliamentary sweep by the terrible twins of Egyptian Islamism... al-Ikhwan (the Muslim Brotherhood) and the Salafi Call movement; Now comes the prize ~ the Presidential election.

But first...

Eleven killed in Egypt clashes.
CAIRO, May 2 (Reuters) - Eleven people were killed and more than 160 wounded near Egypt's Defence Ministry on Wednesday after armed men assaulted protesters demanding an end to army rule, prompting two Islamist candidates to suspend their presidential election campaigns.

Unidentified "thugs" armed with guns or batons attacked demonstrators who included hundreds of ultraconservative Salafi Islamists protesting at the exclusion of their candidate from this month's vote, state news agency MENA reported.

The violence casts a deep shadow over the presidential election due on May 23 and 24, with a run-off in June, and highlights the fragility of Egypt's transition to democracy, which has been punctuated by violence and political bickering.

Security and medical sources gave a toll of 11 dead and over 160 wounded in the clashes outside the Defence Ministry in central Cairo's Abbasiya district. The fighting raged on unabated through the morning, but subsided in the afternoon.
The demonstration was by rabidly anti-military-government groups, on the doorstep of the Defence Ministry, and the Army took six hours to bother to break things up. Not a big surprise, that.

Here's the BBC version of the story. They use the movement names and political party names of the two big factions. Here's a help:
al-Ikhwan(Muslim Brotherhood) = Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) leading the Democratic Alliance bloc.
Al-Da‘wa Al-Salafiyya (Salafi Call) = Hizb al-Nour (Al-Nour Party; Nour) leading a Salafist bloc.
There are other parties... they contribute only puny representation in the Parliament. Anyway, back to the BBC:
Unknown assailants have killed at least 11 people protesting against Egypt's ruling generals near the defence ministry in Cairo, officials say.

The attackers set on them at dawn using rocks, clubs, firebombs and firing shotguns. The protesters retaliated, beating some of the assailants.

Soldiers and police have now stopped the clashes, but the intervention came nearly six hours after they began.

Two leading presidential candidates have suspended campaigning in protest.

Abdul Moneim Aboul Fotouh, an independent Islamist, and Mohammed Mursi, head of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), criticised the authorities' response.

In addition, the FJP and the Salafist Nour party, which together control 70% of the seats in parliament, decided to boycott a meeting with the ruling Supreme Council of Armed Forces (Scaf).
Given the exclusion of Nour's candidate for the Presidential election holds up, here's what remains of the front of the pack:
The generals have promised to hand over power to a civilian administration by the end of June, after a presidential election that they say will be free and fair.

The election's first round is scheduled for 23 and 24 May, with a run-off vote for the top two candidates expected on 16 and 17 June.

The race seems to have narrowed to a contest between Mr Aboul Fotouh, Mr (Mohammed) Mursi (of the FJP), and the former head of the Arab League, Amr Moussa.
Notes in () by this author.

Amr Moussa? oh, him.

This is going to be ugly.

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