CAIRO: April 6 Youth Movement launched a campaign Saturday to “preserve” the army from clashes with citizens by speeding up the handover of power to civilians.
“The army is what protects us,” said Ahmed Maher, general coordinator of the movement, “and it is being implicated in messy affairs where it doesn’t belong.”
Rights groups said over 100 were killed in crackdowns on protests since the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) took power last February. The past three months saw the deadliest clashes between protesters and security forces, including the military police and personnel. Twenty-seven were killed in October, over 40 in November and at least 17 in December. Hundreds were injured.
“The campaign aims to reach both the people on the street and SCAF,” explained April 6 media spokesman Mahmoud Afifi.
He said that the campaign wishes to emphasize to the Egyptian public that April 6 does not hold a grudge against the army, and to send a message to SCAF that they must hand over power to a civilian authority as soon as possible.
“SCAF insists on thrusting the army into political disputes, where it shouldn’t belong,” he said, “We [April 6] request from SCAF to maintain a state of amicability and prevent any confrontations between the army and the people.”
SCAF has ruled the country since the ouster of president Hosni Mubarak in February. It had promised to handover power to civilians within six months. With the delay of parliamentary elections, initially scheduled for September, the council said it would handover power by June 30, stipulating that a new constitution has to be drafted and approved before electing a president.
Afifi said he believed that “after Feb. 11, or possibly even Jan. 28, a state of staleness had evolved between the army and the people,” which, according to him, was detrimental because the army is “the safety valve that keeps the country together.”
Maher explained that “Preserve the Egyptian Army” campaign aims at reaching an agreement on one of two proposals for handing over power by Jan. 25, the first anniversary of the uprising.
One proposal recommends that the People’s Assembly chairman rules as interim president, with presidential campaigning to proceed alongside the drafting of the new constitution, while the other suggests holding early presidential elections before writing the constitution.
Maher said the campaign will rely on street rallies through direct dialogue with citizens and distributing leaflets and posters. It will also involve projector and data-show presentations in public areas similar to the Kazeboon (Liars) campaign.
Kazeboon was launched last month by several youth movements, including April 6, following a deadly crackdown on a sit-in outside cabinet headquarters. It aims to expose “the lies of SCAF” in response to the military’s press conferences about the events of Maspero, Mohamed Mahmoud and Cabinet in October, November and December respectively.
Maher denied that there is any contradiction between both campaigns. “Preserve the Army” was launched in the first place to ensure that criticism is targeted only towards SCAF, not the Egyptian army as a whole, he said.
Maher then said the campaign is supported by several public figures such as columnist Belal Fadl and Ahmed El-Esseily, in addition to TV presenter Youssef El-Husseiny, and Ibrahim Eissa, editor-in-chief of the Tahrir newspaper.
“We also have support from El-Adl, El-Wa’ey and El-Tayar El-Masry parties, as well as several other youth movements,” Maher said.