SI supports Tahrir Square demands for civilian rule

23 November 2011

Egyptians are again in the streets as thousands of people gather in Cairo’s Tahrir Square for a fifth day to denounce the country’s slow transition to democracy.

The protests, which erupted last weekend, have since spread to the city’s streets as Egyptians continue to vent their anger at the country’s ruling military council, led by Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi.

More than 30 people have reportedly been killed in a series of running battles with security forces as military rulers attempt to quell the demonstrations. Since Sunday, teargas, rubber bullets and live ammunition have been a regular feature of Cairo’s streets.

It is now more than nine months since former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was ousted from power. At the time, the Egyptian people were promised a swift transition to civilian rule by the military caretaker government, including a pledge to draft a new constitution and hold parliamentary elections.

But progress has been slow. Although the November elections – in which Egyptians will start voting for a new parliament – look set to go ahead, the military’s own timetable estimates the new constitution will take parliamentarians six months to finalise. Presidential elections will only proceed once it has then been approved by a referendum. Although the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has offered a number of concessions in recent days, protesters on the streets are unconvinced.

Leading figures in Egypt have said that there was no justification for the use of violence against legitimate protesters, among them presidential candidate Amre Moussa, who backed a rapid transition to democratic civilian rule and presidential candidate Mohamed ElBaradei, who has described the events in Tahrir Square as a ‘brutal massacre’ which must stop.

The ongoing suppression and violence on Egypt’s streets has today been deplored by the UN, where Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, called for a prompt, impartial and independent enquiry to ensure that those responsible for the abuses would be held accountable.

In response to the escalating crisis, Socialist International is deeply concerned by the situation in Egypt and condemns the repressive methods being used by the Egyptian ruling military against civilian protesters. We have been hoping, as have all Egyptians, to see a new democratic Egypt. As yet, this hope has not become a reality. We stand in solidarity with the Egyptian people who want a swift and peaceful transition to democracy. A fairly elected civilian government should be in place as soon as possible to enable Egypt to move forward as a fully-fledged democratic state.