Thousands protest against Egypt army

Thousands protest against Egypt army

CAIRO - The Associated Press
Thousands protest against Egypt army

Tens of thousands attend Friday prayers in Tahrir square in Cairo. REUTERS photo

Tens of thousands of protesters packed Cairo’s downtown Tahrir Square on April 20 in the biggest demonstration in months against the ruling military, aimed at stepping up pressure on the generals to hand over power to civilians and bar ex-regime members from running in upcoming presidential elections.

Crowds divided

Both Islamists and liberals turned out in force for the protest, to show the widespread anger at the military over the country’s political chaos ahead of the first presidential elections since the fall of Hosni Mubarak more than a year ago. The confusion has raised suspicions the generals ruling since Mubarak’s ouster are manipulating the process to preserve their power, ensure the victory of a pro-military candidate and prevent reform.

“Down with military rule,” protesters in Tahrir chanted, and banners draped around the sprawling plaza denounced candidates seen as “feloul,” or “remnants” from Mubarak’s regime. But the crowds in Tahrir were divided between rival groups with differing complaints and goals. As a result, the participants failed to reach a unified list of demands.

Liberals and youth groups called for all factions to agree on an anti-military “revolution” candidate in the presidential vote, but the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists, who have their own ambitions in the race, refused to sign on. The presidential elections are scheduled for May 23-24.