Protesters in Cairo, Alex, Suez vow to continue sit-ins in joint statement

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By Mai Shams El-Din

CAIRO: Coalitions and political forces participating in sit-ins in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez vowed to continue until all demands are met in a joint statement released Thursday.

“This statement is a result of coordination between protesters and political groups in all sit-ins in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez to clarify our position from either continuing or ending the sit-in,” said Gamal El-Banna, member of Suez Youth Coalition.

“We are all determined to continue our sit-ins until all the demands are all met, including the resignation of the prosecutor general, enhancing the powers of the Cabinet, stopping military trials for civilians, swift trials for toppled regime officials, and enforcing social justice,” El-Banna added.

El-Banna confirmed that the option of escalating the protests is on the table in order to achieve all the demands, but did not reveal the suggested measures for escalation, saying the issue is still subject of research and negotiation.

“The coordination group started with the protest in Tahrir Square and toured other sit-ins in El-Arbaein Square in Suez, and in Al-Kaed Ibrahim and Saad Zaghlol sit-ins in Alexandria in an attempt to unite efforts and activities of all protesters across the country,” said Ahmed Imam, member of the National Front of Justice and Democracy and a Tahrir Square protester.

The statement also called for a march to take place on July 23, on the day celebrating the 57th anniversary of the 1952 Revolution, to reiterate the demands.

“We call on all protesters across the country to protest in front of Ministry of Defense offices to urge the SCAF to provide a detailed timeline of handing its powers to an elected civilian authority and ending military trials for civilians,” said Moustafa Shawky, spokesperson of the youth coalition.

“When the SCAF took over power, they promised that they will hand in all their powers to an elected civilian authority, and now six months later the roadmap is still unclear,” Shawky added.

The ruling military council said in February it would hand over power in six months or after the parliamentary and presidential elections. It then set a September date for the parliamentary poll and said the presidential would be held before the year’s end. It recently said the election process would start in September with parliamentary elections set for November.

Meanwhile, Islamic powers are calling for a million-man march on July 29 in rejection of efforts to adopt a unified “supra-constitutional principals” and in support of Sharia. The call has stirred fears of divisions inside the square.

“I do not think that such calls will be serious, they are connected to the assumption that the sit-in would have ended by then, but if there is still a sit-in with clear demands, I do not think anyone will try to call for controversial demands,” Shawky said.

Another call was made by ultra conservative Islamic groups for a pro-stability demonstration this Friday.

Imam said that all political forces are more than welcome to voice their demands, adding that “we fought a lot for democracy, and democracy requires us to listen to all different points of view.”

El-Banna condemned the new elections law revealed by the SCAF on Wednesday, likening it to a compilation of amended laws, with no discussion or national consensus.

“All political forces have been so much involved with the organization of the sit-ins across the country that we did not focus on activities related to laws pertaining to the organization of the political process,” Shawky said.

“We are working on dividing ourselves to work in both fields, street action and political negotiations with the SCAF,” he added.

The statement declared that the sit-ins across the country will not end until all the demands are met, on top of which is the swift trials of those responsible for killing protesters.



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