Egypt says election won't be postponed - Africa - World - The Independent

Egypt says election won't be postponed

 

Egypt's military rulers today said that parliamentary elections will start on schedule next week despite escalating unrest and they rejected protesters' calls for them to immediately step down. 

Resigning now would amount to a "betrayal" of the people's trust after the military took over from ousted president Hosni Mubarak by popular demand, the ruling generals said. 

"There will be no postponement in the election," said Major General Mamdouh Shaheen, one of two members of the ruling military council who spoke at a televised news conference. "The election will be held on time with all of its three stages on schedule." 

The comments suggested that the council led by Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, Mubarak's defence minister for 20 years, has no intention of making more concessions under pressure from tens of thousands of protesters gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square, the epicentre of the 18-day uprising that toppled Mubarak nine months ago. 

The second council member, Major General Mukhtar el-Mallah, said stepping down immediately would be a "betrayal of the trust placed in our hands by the people." He said the throngs in Tahrir do not represent the whole of Egypt. 

"We will not relinquish power because a slogan-chanting crowd said so. ... Being in power is not a blessing. It is a curse. It's a very heavy responsibility." 

Earlier in the day, the military apologised for the deaths of dozens of pro-democracy protesters since Saturday and vowed to prosecute those responsible, its latest attempt to appease the protesters. 

Tahrir Square was quieter today after five days of intense clashes. Police and protesters agreed to a truce negotiated by Muslim clerics after the clashes that have left nearly 40 dead and more than 2,000 injured. The truce came into force around 6am and was holding by sunset, when thousands streamed into the square to join protesters there. 

Thousands chanted "we are not leaving, he leaves," referring to Tantawi. Others chanted: "Go away marshal, Egypt will not be ruled by a field marshal." 

The military's handling of the transitional period has been intensely criticised by rights groups and activists, who suspect the generals want to keep power even after a new parliament is seated and a new president is elected. 

The fighting around Cairo's central Tahrir Square has been the longest spate of uninterrupted violence since the uprising that toppled Mubarak on February 11. It has deepened the country's economic and security troubles ahead of the first parliamentary elections since Mubarak's regime was toppled. Voting is scheduled to begin on Monday and will be staggered over a three-month period. 

The military's apology left many of the protesters unmoved. 

"What we want to hear is when they're leaving," said Khaled Mahmoud, a protester who had a bandage on his nose after being hit by a tear gas canister. 

The streets around Tahrir Square where the battles took place were almost entirely covered by debris, soot, abandoned shoes and scores of the surgical masks used by the protesters to fend off the police's tear gas. 

"The army is like the police: A tool of suppression," said Mayada Khalaf, a female protester. "Where was the army when the shooting was going on?" 

The military statement came two days after Tantawi promised in a televised address to more forward the timetable for handing over power to a civilian authority. He said Egypt will hold a presidential election in the first half of next year, sooner than had been expected, but did not offer an apology for the killings. 

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, as the military's ruling body is known, promised to do everything possible to stop bloodshed. 

At the same time, soldiers built barricades from metal bars and barbed wire to separate the protesters and the police on side streets leading from Tahrir to the nearby Interior Ministry. Most of the fighting took place on those streets. 

Protesters formed a series of human chains on the side streets to prevent anybody from violating the truce or approaching flashpoint areas close to the police lines. 

"If any of you hurl a single rock, we will beat you to death," a young man warned, addressing angry youths itching to resume fighting. Others pleaded for calm, chanting "peaceful, peaceful." 

The Health Ministry raised its nationwide death toll since Saturday to 37, while the Elnadeem Centre, an Egyptian rights group known for its careful research of victims of police violence, has said 38 were killed. 

The clashes also have left more than 2,000 protesters wounded, mostly from gas inhalation or injuries caused by rubber bullets fired by security forces. The military insists the police only used tear gas and asked prosecutors to investigate the possible use of live ammunition by unknown parties. 
 

AP

Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
filmMatt Damon in talks to return
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Life and Style
tech... and together they're worth at least £100 million
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig is believed to be donning skies as 007 for the first time
Arts and Entertainment
Fringe show: 'Cilla', with Sheridan Smith in the title role and Aneurin Barnard as her future husband Bobby Willis
tvEllen E Jones on ITV's 'Cilla'
Life and Style
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
tech(but you can't escape: Bono is always on your iPhone)
Sport
Tim Wiese
sport
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Programme Test Manager

£400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are currently seekin...

IT Network Manager - Shepherd's Bush, London

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Network Manager - Shepherd's Bush...

Secondary supply teachers needed in Peterborough

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Secondary supply teac...

Modern Foreign Languages Teacher

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Group: Full time German Supply Teacher...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week