Egypt's military rulers back down on election law, but concerns persist
After thousands took to the streets of Cairo on Friday, Egypt's interim military council agreed to some electoral reforms. But the move has failed to allay concerns over how long the military will remain in power.
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After a meeting with about a dozen political parties, the SCAF gave in to their demand to change election laws and agreed to allow international elections monitors, which it had previously opposed.Skip to next paragraph
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The military rulers also said they would amend the electoral law that had reserved one third of parliamentary seats for independent candidates. Parties will now be able to nominate members for those seats.
But the SCAF only agreed to consider, not implement, other key demands of protesters and political parties, such as ending the emergency law, which gives police wide-ranging powers and was used extensively as a tool of oppression under Mubarak.
A long timeline for military rule
Also, in a document stating the outcome of the meeting, the military put into writing the transition timeline – which would not see the generals giving up political power until late 2012.
The timeline set out in the agreement would see a joint session of parliament begin by April, after both houses are elected, to select a committee to draft a new constitution. Presidential campaigns cannot begin until the constitution is approved through a referendum, which must take place by next October.
The military is not “seeking to prolong the transitional period,” said Army chief of Staff Sami Enan, who met with the political leaders, according to official news agency MENA. “It is committed to a clear and precise timetable to transfer power after the election of a president.”
Frustration with the military’s rule is growing, however.
Thousands of Egyptians returned to Tahrir Square Friday in protest of its handling of the transition period. The most organized group in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood, did not officially take part, but threatened to send its members to the streets in massive protest if the election law was not changed by Sunday. Other parties had mulled a boycott of the elections.
The military also announced last month it would extend the emergency law, though it had promised to rescind the law by the end of September. And since Mubarak was ousted, the military has tried more than 12,000 civilians in military courts, denying them basic rights.
Last week, security forces raided the offices of a local Al Jazeera affiliate for the second time in a month.