Army Coup Reality Dawns On Egypt's Protesters

The Bee

November 21, 2011 "
The Bee" - - The Egyptian 'revolution' of February was always an attempted coup d'etat by the military - a fact that has gradually dawned on would-be revolutionaries who are again making their anger heard.

In February the military, which had been looking for a way to get rid of the president, Hosni Mubarak, removed the leader and set up the supposedly temporary Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).

For a while this was enough to calm passions, especially after the February 'victory', but the SCAF has spent the year manoeuvring to ensure it stays in power and frustration has grown.

There have been demonstrations all year, some of them violent, but tensions are building ahead of parliamentary elections.

The tipping point came last week when the military-backed cabinet outlined plans for a new constitution.


They included laws that the budget of the military could not be scrutinised by MPs, and sweeping powers for the president - which would leave the elected parliament with less authority.

People are also angry that the presidential election may not come until 2013.

The first demonstrations were led by the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) on Friday. It turned out tens of thousands of people, who marched on Tahrir Square without opposition from the police or army.

Over the weekend things changed. Several hundred demonstrators, mostly younger, many secular, camped out in the square.

This prompted the riot police, backed by army officers, to turn on them with tear gas, shotgun bird pellets and rubber-coated steel bullets to try and drive them out.

There are two reasons the authorities did not crack down on the MB.

First, the MB could call out hundreds of thousands of supporters across the country and, if it chose, escalate the violence.

That could cause SCAF to cancel the elections which in turn would make the violence worse.

The second reason is the likelihood of the MB becoming the biggest party in parliament after the elections.

The army will need to do business with it. This would most probably involve a deal whereby the MB takes ministries such as education, religion, and justice, while candidates who support the military take defence, foreign policy and the interior ministry.

The first of three rounds of voting is next Monday. It is unlikely to pass off peacefully.


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