Egyptians fear army plans to grab power


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The Independent Online

With less than 10 days to go before Egypt's first post-Mubarak elections huge crowds again flocked to Cairo's Tahrir Square yesterday to protest against what they claim is an attempt by the military to extend its grasp on power.

The protests were spearheaded by the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's best-organised electoral force and the group widely expected to emerge as the most potent political force in the next parliament. Previous demonstrations against the ruling military council have been shunned by the Brotherhood – which many liberal parties accuse of being coerced into a tacit alliance with Egypt's generals – but yesterday the group joined forces with other political factions. It was the biggest Tahrir Square protest in months.

The main focus of anger was a recent proposal by Egypt's government that the military should be the guardian of "constitutional legitimacy".

The document, which also included suggestions that the army should be shielded from constitutional oversight, has reignited fears that the nation's generals – who initially promised they would hand over power to a civilian government six months after the fall of former President Hosni Mubarak – are now intent on clinging hold of power.

"The generals want to continue a military government," said Samir Galall, a 57-year-old taxi driver in Tahrir Square. "They are like the brothers of Hosni Mubarak. We've had 60 years of military rule since Gamal Abdel Nasser. We want a civilian government like Turkey or in Europe," he added.