Egypt’s military rulers move for democracy
An Egyptian protestor holding a national flag shouts anti-Egypt’s Supreme Council for the Armed Forces (SCAF) slogans during a protest at Tahrir Square in Cairo. AP photoEgypt’s military rulers are considering ways to speed up the transition to civilian rule, including moving up the date for presidential elections, a spokesman for a civilian body that advises the army said Jan. 30.
At the same time Egypt’s military leader has sacked the general responsible for media affairs to bolster an image tarnished by killings of protesters and accusations that the men in uniform are undermining Egypt’s democratic revolution.
The change is the first in the military council since the generals took power from President Hosni Mubarak during a popular uprising last February. Major General Ismail Etman, 60, was “exempted from service and replaced by Major General Ahmed Abu El-Dahab, the director of the artillery division,” a defense ministry source said. The generals are not trusted by many young pro-democracy campaigners, who suspect they want to curtail civilian power by exploiting the fragile security situation. A source close to the military council said it was concerned about its deteriorating public image.
Presidential election could be moved to May
“The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces concluded that the army’s image in the media has suffered over the past year under Etman’s leadership,” said the source, Reuters reported. “The decision is intended to bring in new leadership to improve the armed forces’ performance,” and was decreed by Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, who heads the council, the source added.
Meanwhile, Mohammed El-Kholy, a spokesman for a civilian body that advises the army, said the advisory board is holding special meetings to firm up proposals to the generals on shortening the transition. “This is an effort exerted to end the tension in the streets,” he told the Associated Press.
According to a plan put forward by the military in November, a constituent assembly would draft a new constitution before presidential elections are held by the end of June, when the generals would relinquish power and return to their barracks. El-Kholy said one of the advisory panel’s proposals would move the presidential vote up to May. But for that to happen, the period of time allotted to selecting the 100-member assembly as well the time set aside for the constitution would have to be shortened.