Activists spread the call for power transfer to parliament

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CAIRO: Youth activists calling for the ruling military council to hand over power to the newly-elected parliament on January 25 spread the word on Friday about what they see as a viable option for a swift transfer to civilian rule.

An initiative called “Power Handover to the Elected People’s Assembly on January 25, 2012” called on activists in different governorates to raise awareness about this demand on Jan. 13.

The decentralized initiative makes materials such as flyers and stickers available online for anyone to download, print and distribute to the general public as a way of mobilizing support. Volunteers have been heeding the call for about a month now.

On Friday, volunteers in five governorates including Cairo, Alexandria, Suez, Luxor and Aswan worked to raise awareness for this demand, which sees the incoming parliament, set to hold its first session on January 23, as a legitimate entity to replace the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) as rulers of Egypt.

As the anniversary of the January 25 uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak nears, SCAF has planned celebrations to commemorate what was decreed a national holiday while activists have called for mass protests on the day to reiterate demands to replace the military council with a civilian-led government.

SCAF, which assumed power in February after Mubarak stepped down, initially promised to hand over power after six months but later prolonged the transition timeline. Relations between SCAF and activists have soured over the months after repeated deadly crackdowns on peaceful protests.

“After the evident failure of the military council and the increase in violations by the army and police…and political obstinacy against meeting the revolution’s demands…it’s time for them to step down and hand over power to the elected parliament,” the initiative says on its Facebook page.

“Our movement is totally decentralized. Supporters print the material at their own expense and distribute it wherever they want; but mostly at the marches or demonstrations already taking place,” Ahmed Shata, one of the coordinators, told Daily News Egypt.

Volunteers were also asked to post videos of themselves explaining why they support this demand.

The main demand calls on temporarily giving the head of the incoming parliament presidential powers or tasking the new parliament with electing an interim president at its first meeting and then holding presidential elections 60 days later while drafting a constitution with no interference from SCAF.

In one of its statements, the initiative, under the slogan “People’s revolution, people’s rule,” said, “Bread, freedom, social justice and human dignity were the Egyptian revolution’s main demands, none of which have been achieved until now … SCAF is politically inept and its members’ financial welfare is tied to the old regime. These reasons led to the council breaking promise to hand over power within six months and to the deterioration of Egypt’s economic and security conditions, in addition to rifts among Egyptians.”

Ahmed Saleh, one of the coordinators, told DNE in Tahrir Square on Friday that the supporters of this initiative are mainly working to promote this as a viable option and are not working through formal channels.

“We will not collect signatures on a petition to present to any entity because we think the millions of people who voted in the parliamentary elections are enough,” Saleh said.

“Some people support the initiative while … others do not want power to be in hands of the parliament because they do not see it as representative — either way people will take to the streets on January 25 to call for the military council to step down,” he added.

Shata said, “Even if the parliament is not representative of Egyptians, I prefer arguing, fighting or opposing it rather than an armed entity like the SCAF. I believe that negotiating with Muslim Brotherhood members or Salafis is much better than negotiating with the SCAF.”

The Muslims Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party won a majority of the seats in the parliamentary elections, followed by the hardline Salafi Al-Nour Party, and then Al-Wafd, the liberal Egyptian Bloc and the Revolution Continues coalition of youth activists.

According to Shata, more than 20 other movements currently support the “Power Handover” initiative, including the April 6 Youth Movement and the Kefaya Movement for Change. Some public figures including Belal Fadl, Ibrahim Eissa and Dr Heba Raouf also support the initiative.

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