November  27, 2011

No-one will be allowed to pressure the armed forces, the head of Egypt’s Supreme Council has warned, as he asked political leaders to support new PM Kamal al-Ganzuri. His comments came amid mass protests demanding an end to military rule.

“We are faced with enormous challenges,” Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi told reporters on Sunday. “We will not allow troublemakers to meddle in the elections, and we will not allow any individual or party to pressure the armed forces,”he declared in a robust statement.

He has also asked two possible presidential candidates, the former head of the UN nuclear watchdog, Mohamed ElBaradei, and ex-Arab League chief Amr Mussa, to “support the government of Kamal al-Ganzuri.”

Tantawi warned of “extremely grave” consequences if the nation does not pull through its current crisis, and urged voters to turn out for the parliamentary elections starting on Monday.

However, people gathering on Tahrir Square for a fresh wave of protests against Egypt’s ruling military council do not share Tantawi’s optimism about the elections or the probity of the country’s military rulers.

Tantawi is facing mounting pressure to step down immediately, along with his fellow generals on the ruling military council, to make way for a civilian presidential council and a “national salvation” government to run the nation’s affairs until a president is elected.

“The people calling for the elections are mistaken; how can we hold elections when protests continue and the country is in chaos?” asked Wajeeh Abdul Salam, a protester in Tahrir Square. “The military council has engineered the issue of elections so the people are distracted from its mistakes.This just proves they’ve failed in the administration and running of the country over the past months,” he added.

The vote is now seen by many activists as serving the military’s efforts to project an image as true democrats and the nation’s saviours.

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