Islamists win election again, military might leave in May
Sources tell AsiaNews that Islamist parties won 80 per cent of the vote. Official results will be released in the next few days. The military announces the removal of a general, Ismail Etman, a former Mubarak crony, for involvement in anti-remonstration violence. He is the first SCAF leader to be dismissed.
Cairo (AsiaNews) – Islamist parties won again in the first round of Egypt’s upper house (Shura) elections. Official results will be released in the next few days, but sources told AsiaNews that the Freedom and Justice Party (Muslim Brotherhood) and al-Nour (Salafists) obtained about 80 per cent of the vote. However, the turnout was very low in the 13 governatorates where the poll was held: Cairo, Alexandria, Monufiya, Daqahlia, Damietta, Fayum, Assiut, Qena, New Valley, Nord Sinai, South Sinai and Red Sea. Runoffs for the first round are set for 7 February. The second run will be held on 14-15 February with runoffs on 22 February.

The rise of Islamist parties from outlaws to the country’s main political parties is a frightening prospect for minority Copts and moderate Muslims. However, sources tell AsiaNews that many inside the Freedom and Justice Party are opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood’s hard-line stance.

“The young people who founded the party are moving towards more moderate positions, which could lead to an Islam that is more compatible with the needs of the modern world. This would contain the Salafists.”

In order for the democratic process to be completed, the military must hand over power to civilians and respect the choice of the people, which wants justice for the more than a thousand dead killed by security forces during the Arab spring.

Meanwhile, in order to spruce up the military’s image, the head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), Field Marshall Tantawi, replaced the head of Armed Forces media affairs, Major General Ismail Etman, 60, with Ahmed Abul Dahab. Etman was involved in anti-demonstration violence.

The change is the first in the military council since the generals took power from President Hosni Mubarak in last February’s popular uprising.

Similarly, following recent demonstrations in Cairo and other Egyptian cities, the SCAF said it would move up presidential elections by two months.

At present no date has been set, but sources close to the military are saying that they might be brought forward to 16 May with a runoff on 23 May.

The military also announced the rules to run in the presidential elections. Candidates must be Egyptian-born from Egyptian parents, not have dual citizenship or a foreign wife.

This would exclude some political leaders living abroad, including Mohamed Mustafa El Baradei, former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (AIEA) and Nobel Peace Prize laureate for 2005, who strongly backed of pro-democracy parties during the Jasmine Revolution.

In protest against the climate of terror and insecurity caused by the military, he announced a few weeks ago that he would not run for the presidency.

Parliament has appointed the presidents of parliamentary committees. The Muslim Brotherhood’s party will chair 12 out of 19, al Nour, four, including education and scientific research. Secularist parties will get tourism, culture and human rights. (S.C.)
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