• 14:45
  • Tuesday ,04 October 2011

Egypt's politicians divided on transition plan

By-Amr Emam-EG

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Tuesday ,04 October 2011

Egypt's politicians divided on transition plan

CAIRO - Mixed reactions greeted a plan agreed jointly between a group of political parties and the ruling military council on Saturday for suspending the controversial Emergency Law, stopping military trials for civilians and allowing party candidates to contest seats specified for independents during the forthcoming parliamentary polls, slated for late next month. 

Some politicians described the plan as a "good" step along the right track, but others said the plan does not meet the aspirations of the people, warning against future friction between the majority of Egyptians and the Army because of its insensitivity to the demands of a people thirsty for a quick and effective transition. 
        "The latest agreed measures will only serve the military because they will prolong their presence in power," said Abdel-Moneim Abul Fetouh, a potential presidential candidate. 
        "This will cause more suffering for the people, who already have more than their fill of economic pressures to contend with," he added in a statement. 
        In a meeting with Lt. Gen. Sami Annan, the second-in-command in the military council, political leaders agreed on a timetable for the current transitional period. 
        The military council agreed to amend Article 5 of the Election Law to allow political party candidates to contest seats specified for independents (one-third of the total seats in Parliament). 
       The military council also agreed to consider ending the Emergency Law, in effect since 1981, and issuing a law banning former ruling party members from running in elections.  
       The meeting of the military council with the party leaders came a day after tens of thousands of demonstrators poured into the streets to protest the Election Law and the extension of the Emergency Law, which expired (in theory) on September 30. 
       While the military council showed flexibility, if only in the form of verbal promises, to most of the demands of the party leaders, the fact that it only met with a fraction of Egypt's 50 political parties may be cause for a further deterioration in the relations between the Army and the political powers. 
       Even with this, some politicians feel optimistic about the future, saying the Army is doing its utmost to try and ensure a smooth transition in Egypt, striving to respond positively to almost everybody.
       "Let's be frank about this," said Helmi  Salem, the head of the Al-Ahrar Party, who attended the meeting with Annan on Saturday. 
       "It is impossible for the council to please everybody here. But we are seeing signs that the Army wants to hand power over to the people when the conditions are right," he told The Egyptian Gazette in an interview.