Saturday, October 1, 2011

Thousands demonstrate in Egypt against state of emergency and controversial elections law

Thousands have demonstrated in Cairo on 30 September, on a days that was dubbed the 'Friday of Reclaiming the Revolution'. Marches were held from several parts of the city to Tahrir Square. Al Ahram Online estimated that around 15.00 o'clock in the afternoon some 50.000 people were present in Tahrir. Other demonstrations took place in cities like Alexandria, Ismailiyya, Damietta and Port Said.
Participating in the protest were almost all political movements, with the exception of the Muslim Brotherhood, although the youth of the Brotherhood did take part. In the forefront were organizations like the 6 April Movement and the Coalition of the Youth of the Revolution.
The protesters demanded the lifting of the State of Emergency, which was prolonged by the governing military council, the SCAF, till February next year after the storming of the Israeli embassy on 9 September. Another demand was the abolishment of article 5 of the elections law which was adopted last Sunday by the SCAF. This article 5 of the new law stipulates that two thirds of the seats in parliament will be elected through party lists, but reserves another third of the seats for independent candidates. All political parties are against this last provision, because they fear that it will provide an opportunity for members of the now defunct party of Mubarak, the National Democratic Party, and for figures who belonged to the former govermenment, to win seats on individual tickets.
Egypt’s Democratic Coalition and Egyptian Bloc have both threatened to boycott the country’s first post-Mubarak parliamentary elections. Wednesday night, the Democratic Coalition - which includes the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice party and Wafd Party, along with 60 other political parties and movements - threatened to boycott the polls slated for November if the controversial article is not scrapped.
The other coalition, the Egyptian Bloc - an alliance of secular political parties advocating a civil state - stressed its rejection of the new electoral law on Monday, citing many of the same reasons. "These amendments fail to meet the minimum demands of the country’s political forces, which were articulated in numerous meetings with the military junta,” the bloc declared in a press statement.
The Egyptian Bloc consists largely of liberal and socialist parties, including the Free Egyptians Party, the Democratic Front Party, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, the Egyptian Socialist Party, the Egyptian Communist Party, the National Association for Change, and the Farmers' Syndicate.
 The SCAF announced on Tuesday that the first stage of parliamentary polling would be conducted on 28 November.

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