Egypt’s army rulers issued a decree on Sunday to hasten the conclusion of parliamentary elections after deadly clashes in Cairo last month raised pressure for a quicker handover to civilian control. Final run-offs to the assembly’s upper house will end on February 22 instead of March 12 as previously planned, the ruling military council said in a statement, and the house will hold its first sitting on February 28.
Fifty-nine people were killed in confrontations in late November and December between security forces and protesters demanding the military leave power sooner. Many Egyptians voiced outrage at video footage of soldiers beating men and women after they had already collapsed on the ground, some dragging a female protester by her black full-body veil, exposing her bra then clubbing and kicking her.
Thousands marched on Cairo’s Tahrir Square on December 20 to condemn the military’s tactics. Many believe the army is no longer fit to manage security on the ground and carry out difficult reforms at a time of political and economic crisis. Others say it is the only institution with the credibility to unite the country and prevent Egypt being dragged further into chaos by the opposing political forces freed by the toppling of president Hosni Mubarak in February.
The November demonstrations had already prompted the military rulers to fix mid-2012 as their deadline for quitting power by handing over to a civilian president. An earlier end to the multi-stage parliamentary election could take some momentum out of the protests, led by pro-democracy groups and rights activists who suspect the army is secretly manoeuvring to maintain its autonomy and its broad business interests after the transition.
Full Article: Egypt’s army hastens end of parliamentary election | Reuters.