Protesters Rally in Egypt in Bid to Prevent Candidates from Entering Presidential Race

Thousands of Egyptian Islamists rallied in Cairo’s Tahrir Square today to protest against candidates running for president who are linked to the former regime of Hosni Mubarak.

The demonstrators also rallied in support of legislation pending in the Egyptian parliament that would ban those candidates from running for office. The protests were sparked by the announcement that Omar Suleiman, a close adviser to Mubarak and the former intelligence chief, was running for president. Another former Mubarak regime figure, Ahmed Shafiq, is also running for presidency.

Suleiman, who is close to Israel and the US, officially declared his candidacy last week after promising not to run.

Demonstrators see the candidacies of Shafiq and Suleiman as an insult to the Egyptian revolution, which overthrew Mubarak last February.

Al Jazeera English reports from Cairo:

Khairat El-Shater, the presidential candidate for the Muslim Brotherhood, has denounced Suleiman's attempt to make a political comeback, likening it to an attempt "to steal the revolution" and warned it could spark huge street protests.

"It really is a pretty festive atmosphere, and there's also a lot of anger at the protest," said Al Jazeera's Sherine Tadros, reffering to the protest in support of parliament's legislation.

"They're telling us that if Omar Suleiman, the former vice president, and Ahmed Shafik, the former prime minister, are allowed to run, and indeed if they win, they will stage another uprising.

"There's a lot of feeling that the revolution has not ended because the main aim of the revolution was to get rid of the regime, not just to get rid of Hosni Mubarak," our correspondent said from Cairo.

Outside of Cairo, Islamists also voiced their anger at Suleiman’s candidacy. Egypt Independent reports:

Residents in several Egyptian governorates took to the streets on Friday to demand that former regime figures be disqualified from the presidential race.

Thousands staged demonstrations at Qaed Ibrahim mosque in Alexandria, and marched to the northern district military headquarters to reject reproducing the collapsed regime, state-run Al-Ahram newspaper reported.

The protesters chanted, “We are the people — the red line,” and, “Whoever will betrays the revolution will lose.” They also held photos of Omar Suleiman and Ahmed Shafiq with the words “No to the return of Mubarak regime figures” written on them.

In Qalyubia Governorate, several cities witnessed protests organized by Islamist factions demanding that former regime figures be banned from the presidency and other high offices. Other protesters demanded that Article 28 of the Constitutional Declaration, which states that the Presidential Elections Commission’s decisions cannot be challenged, be abolished.

Missing from the protests, though, were the liberals and leftists who played an instrumental role in the overthrow of Mubarak. Al Jazeera English explains why:

Liberal and secular groups also do not wish to see the return of Mubarak-era figures, but they stayed away from Friday's protest.

They have instead called a demonstration on April 20 to protest at what they see as "Islamist" monopolisation of political life in the country since the revolt.

AlterNet / By Alex Kane

Posted at April 13, 2012, 8:34am

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