Tahrir Square protests resume over Mubarak and presidential election
Thousands march on Tahrir to demand retrial for Mubarak and removal of Ahmed Shafik from the presidential runoff.
Thousands of protesters descended on Tahrir Square on Tuesday as the schism threatening to tear Egyptian politics apart continued ahead of the presidential election runoff later this month.
Several marches set off throughout the capital to join up with protesters already in Tahrir. The latest round of street protests were sparked by the verdict in the trial of former president Hosni Mubarak. He received a life sentence but many of his sons and aides were exonerated.
Causing as much anger is the presence of Mubarak’s prime minister, Ahmed Shafik, in the presidential election runoff, where he will face the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi.
On one march, protesters tore down posters of Shafik. Chants against the old regime and the ruling military junta echoed through the streets.
Ali Abu Zeid, a protester at one of the marches, said: “We’re still asking for that Tahrir slogan ‘Bread, freedom and social justice’. The regime hasn’t fallen yet. We must remove Shafik and enforce the law against Mubarak.”
Three of the marches heading to Tahrir were led by the “revolutionary” presidential candidates Hamdeen Sabahy, Abdel-Moneim Abul-Futoh and Khaled Ali. The three candidates also made an appearance in Tahrir on Monday night, addressing a crowd that mobbed them as they entered the square.
They alleged vote-rigging in the first round of the elections, saying that more than 1.5m votes were fraudulent, and listed a series of demands, including the retrial of Mubarak and his sons and interior ministry aides, and the removal of Shafik from the presidential runoff.
The case for Shafik’s removal stems from a disenfranchisement law passed by parliament which stipulates that members of the Mubarak regime cannot run for office. The presidential commission that oversees the elections, however, has a mandate from the interim constitution that gives it the final say on all election matters. The commission initially barred Shafik from the race but then allowed him to stand following an appeal.
The candidates who were eliminated in the first round are mulling the idea of a joint civil presidential council in place of the current elections, comprising pro-revolution figures such as the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, who arrived in Cairo on Tuesday and was scheduled to give a press conference later in the day.
Another protester, Amira Reda, said: “The idea of a presidential council is good, the two candidates in the runoff do not represent what the majority want as the first round results have shown.”
Shafik is rejected by revolutionary groups because he was prime minister during the 18-day revolt that overthrew Mubarak and more pertinently, was in office during the infamous Battle of the Camel on 2 February 2011, when gangs attacked Tahrir square in a battle that raged through the night.