By Heba Fahmy
CAIRO: The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces met with Egyptian leading figures on Tuesday, including former IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei, Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa and business tycoon Naguib Sawiris, to discuss plans for this critical transitional period.
Former prime minister Kamal El-Ganzoury, former information minister Ahmed Kamal Aboul Magd, Shorouk editor-in-chief Salama Ahmed Salama and prominent judges also attended the meeting.
ElBaradei stressed that the current government, which is dominated by ministers handpicked by ousted president Hosni Mubarak, has to resign in order to begin reform, according to statement issued by the campaign supporting ElBaradei on Wednesday.
“The Egyptian youth who are in the heart of the revolution have voiced clear demands that represent all national powers’,” read the statement, quoting ElBaradei.
ElBaradei added that presidential elections should be held before parliamentary elections to guarantee the establishment of a new constitution that represents the people.
“Holding parliamentary elections now will allow the participation of members of [Mubarak’s] National Democratic Party (NDP) and other political groups that will represent 50 percent of the parliament as workers and farmers, according to the current constitution,” read the statement.
“This will lead to the creation of a parliament that we can’t trust to form the new constitution.”
Moussa and Sawiris reportedly agreed with ElBaradei that presidential elections should be held before parliamentary elections, otherwise there might be grave repercussions.
ElBaradei met with the Coalition of the Youth of the Revolution following his meeting with Tantawi to discuss the developments that occurred.
“ElBaradei discussed with us what happened in his meeting with the army and discussed our demands,” Abdel Rahman Samir, member of the coalition and leading member of the campaign supporting ElBaradei, told Daily News Egypt.
“We proposed former Minister of Transportation Essam Sharaf and former Minister of Supply and Trade Ahmed Al-Gweily as candidates to head the new government after the current government is sacked during our meeting with ElBaradei,” Samir said.
Mohamed Abbas, a member of the coalition and the Muslim brotherhood, told Daily News Egypt, “If Shafiq’s government is sacked, we will halt the demonstrations for a while and suggest a timetable for the army to execute the rest of our demands.”
Hundreds are already camped out in Tahrir Square, calling for a million-man march on Friday to pressure current Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq to leave. April 6 Youth Movement and renowned Facebook group “We are all khaled Saied” are dubbing it “The Friday of Demanding Shafiq’s resignation.”
Abbas stressed that ElBaradei doesn’t represent the coalition but supports their demands like many other political figures.
“We don’t reject anyone who wants to meet with us and discuss our demands in order to get Egypt through this transitional period and solve the current crisis,” he added.
“We are glad that ElBaradei supports our demands and the army is meeting with him,” Samir said. “I totally trust the army and believe they want what’s in the country’s best interest.”
Minister of Defense Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, also the head of the SCAF, discussed three main issues during the meeting, according to the campaign’s statement.
The first was the economic situation the country. Tantawi said Egypt needed LE10 billion in order to pay employees’ salaries, according to the statement.
The second was security in the absence of police officers on duty, protecting the people in the streets. The third was the political situation, at which point Tantawi stressed that the army will hand over authority to civilian rule in no more than six months.
Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces Sami Anan added that the army would follow through with its promise to heed to the people’s demands.
Sawiris stressed the importance of not publishing accusations against businessmen in order preserve the trust in Egypt’s economy. He also called for lifting the 12am-6am curfew and opening movie theatres so “people can get the sense that life is back to normal,” according to the statement.
Political analyst Nabil Abdel Fattah, from Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, told Daily News Egypt, “The army is attempting to [reach] common ground between the youths of the revolution, prominent leading figures of the community and the army itself through this meeting.”
“However none of these figures will be able to achieve anything except ElBaradei who has a strong connection with the youths and voices their demands,” Abdel Fattah said.
“Moussa for example attended the meeting to advocate himself as a presidential candidate although he’s a well known face from the former corrupt regime,” he added.
Abdel Fattah also stated that the government arranged this meeting to ease the people’s anger and frustration following last week’s “Friday of Cleansing and Protecting the Revolution.”
The army attacked protestors with cattle rods in Tahrir and near the parliament building in the early hours of Saturday and then later apologized releasing most detained activists.
“The youths will continue to pressure the army to heed to their demands through their demonstrations,” Abdel Fattah said. “They are the ones who will achieve true change.”
The council has been running Egypt’s affairs since longtime President Hosni Mubarak was forced to step down in the face of an 18-day revolution.
The council just commissioned constitutional amendments that would allow for the transition of power to civilian rule. But the changes have been criticized by some opposition groups as “not enough” to guarantee free and fair Presidential elections. –Additional reporting by AP.