Public Outcry, Calls for Election Boycott Grow After 'Counter-Revolutionary Coup' in Egypt

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Common Dreams

Public Outcry, Calls for Election Boycott Grow After 'Counter-Revolutionary Coup' in Egypt

Egyptian court rulings seen as reversal of last year’s ‘revolution’

by
Common Dreams staff

People walk past graffiti showing faces of ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, right; Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, second right; former Secretary General of the Arab League Amr Mussa, second left, and former prime minister and presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq, left, at Tahrir square. (CNN)

A pair of judicial decisions on Thursday by Egypt's high court have set the nation back into revolutionary mode on the eve of presidential elections that were supposed to solidify a pathway to a new democracy.  Instead, the parliament was dissolved and legislative authority was handed back to the military council.

Crowds gathered in Tahrir Square in Cairo to protest the court decisions and calls grew louder among pro-revolution and youth factions to boycott this weekend's election. Many are characterizing events yesterday as a 'coup' coordinated by 'counter-revolutionary' forces held over from the Mubarak regime and among the military elite.

“This series of measures shows that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), the head of the counter-revolution, is adamant to bring back the old regime and the presidential elections are merely a show,” six prominent parties and movements said in a statement.

"Many Egyptians died in the uprising last year and in the end we are being forced to choose between the old corrupt regime we overthrew and a movement that has its own Islamist agenda. I will spoil my ballot." --Ahmed Ali, Egyptian voter

"Egypt is entering into a very dangerous stage, and I think a lot of people were caught by surprise," Shadi Hamid, director of research at the Brookings Doha Center, told CNN. "We knew it was getting bad, but we didn't think it was getting this bad."

He called the court rulings the "worst possible outcome" for Egypt and said the transition to civilian rule was "effectively over."

"I am angry," Ahmed Ali, a 44-year-old janitor in Cairo, told Reuters. "Many Egyptians died in the uprising last year and in the end we are being forced to choose between the old corrupt regime we overthrew and a movement that has its own Islamist agenda. I will spoil my ballot."

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Democracy Now!: A Judicial Coup In Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood-Controlled Parliament Dissolved, Military Gains Power

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UPI.com reports:

Thousands crowded Tahrir Square Friday after Egypt's top court dissolved Parliament and kept Hosni Mubarak's last prime minister in the presidential race.

The flow of traffic around the square -- the focal point of the 2011 revolution that ousted former President Mubarak 16 months ago -- was disrupted as the number of protesters increased, officials said.

Other crowds gathered outside the Supreme Constitutional Court in the Cairo suburb of Maadi chanting, "Down with military rule."

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Reuters: Calls to boycott get louder on eve of Egypt vote

The revolutionaries and others who oppose both army and Islamist rule, and whose demands are still far from being met, would likely continue to agitate for change, Nafaa said.

"I refuse to be a pawn in the military council's game against the Brotherhood," said Hala Said, a 31-year-old marketing manager, who plans to go to the polling station in a t-shirt bearing the word "Void".

A council of military generals has ruled since Mubarak was ousted on February 11, 2011. Many see Shafik as the army's preferred candidate, although the military say it does not back any candidate and Shafik denies he has the army's support.

The first-round results have polarized the country and triggered a series of street protests against the idea of a former Mubarak associate returning to run the country.

Yet for some, the fear of Shafik, who looks to his opponents like a carbon-copy of Mubarak, trumps their concerns about Morsy, who liberals worry will slap Islamic strictures on Egypt. [...]

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CNN: 'Soft coup' court ruling could reignite Egyptian revolution

The dizzying developments sent shock waves across Egypt just 16 months after a popular uprising toppled former President Hosni Mubarak and two days before Egyptians go to the polls to elect a new president. They also raised fresh questions among many about whether the military -- long the most powerful force in Egyptian life -- would ever yield power."We knew it was getting bad, but we didn't think it was getting this bad."

"Egypt is entering into a very dangerous stage, and I think a lot of people were caught by surprise," said Shadi Hamid, director of research at the Brookings Doha Center. "We knew it was getting bad, but we didn't think it was getting this bad."

He called the court rulings the "worst possible outcome" for Egypt and said the transition to civilian rule was "effectively over."

In one ruling Thursday, the Supreme Constitutional Court found that the rules governing January's parliamentary elections were invalid, triggering the dissolution of parliament.

In the second, the court rejected a law barring former regime members from running for president, clearing the way for Ahmed Shafik, the last prime minister under former Mubarak, to run in this weekend's runoff election. He faces Mohamed Morsi, an Islamist candidate favored by many in the Muslim Brotherhood and their allies and supporters.

The military leadership, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, also announced it would name a 100-strong panel by Friday that will draw up a new constitution for the country.

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McClatchy adds:

Combined with the granting to the military this week of broad powers to arrest civilians, the decisions seemed to complete efforts by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which has officially ruled Egypt since Mubarak’s ouster, to regain control of the state. With the dissolution of Parliament, many think the military council might become the nation’s legislative body and also assume the responsibility for writing a new constitution.

"Egypt just witnessed the smoothest military coup. We’d be outraged if we weren’t so exhausted," tweeted Hossam Bahgat, the director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.

“A complete coup,” former presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, a moderate Islamist who placed fourth in the 13-man first round of balloting, wrote in a Facebook posting.

“What has happened is that the revolution has lost to the state,” said Zaid Akl, a political analyst at Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies. “The state successfully absorbed the shock of the revolution.”

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