News / Middle East

Tahrir Square Looms Over Egyptian Elections

Elizabeth Arrott

Egypt's military rulers insist parliamentary elections will go ahead as planned Monday, despite unrest that has left dozens of anti-military protesters dead, and the center of Cairo in upheaval.    

A capital city convulsed with violence just days before the first democratic elections in decades might not seem ideal.  But some voters think the demonstrations will keep the transition from stalling.

Abdul Rahman Mansour, a graphic designer in the capital, says the people on Tahrir Square are making sure their rights are respected and the country moves ahead.

American University in Cairo professor Said Sadek agrees, saying the protests serve as a wake-up call for the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. "After the end of Mubarak rule SCAF has no legitimacy except obeying and meeting the demands of the revolution.  This is revolutionary legitimacy.  So they have to follow what is happening," he said.


View El-tahrir Square in a larger map

After days of excusing the violent crackdown on demonstrators, the SCAF Thursday reversed course and apologized for the deaths.   They, too, say they want to see the elections go ahead.

Potential voter Mohamad Abu al Alaa, said he is keen to take part, but only if it moves the country forward. He said if he sees nothing has changed and his choices are only those part of the old "corrupt regime", he thinks he'll pass.

According to AUC's Sadek, the chances people like Abu al Alaa will be disappointed are high. For the most part, the revolutionaries are not the ones running for office.

Photo Gallery : Tahrir Square Protests, Cairo, Egypt

He said that four forces have been competing for influence: Islamist groups, who envision an Islamic emirate; the secular liberals and the minorities, who he said want a modern Egypt based on human rights; and the remnants of the former government, who he argues "want to keep the booty they stole under Mubarak."

"And finally the fourth force is the military, the SCAF. Those people benefited from Mubarak regime and they want to keep their privileges.  So all those forces today are fighting for a bit of this cake, pie, and nobody cares about Egypt as a country," he said.

Which is why, Sadek argues, the demonstrators have already made a difference.  He says by using the only tool the revolutionaries have, protest, they are reminding those forces that the principles of the revolution must be upheld, or the upheaval will continue.

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