Egypt’s military rulers agree to amend election law after threats of boycotts
Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces agreed on Saturday to amend a controversial electoral law following threats from political parties to boycott the upcoming November elections.
The military rulers also agreed to lift the emergency law during elections and halt military trials for civilians, and consider banning senior members of the dissolved former ruling party of Hosni Mubarak from running for public posts, Al Arabiya correspondent reported from Cairo.
The decision came after a meeting between military chief of staff Sami Enan and members of the Democratic Coalition, which groups dozens of political groups, including the powerful Muslim Brotherhood and the liberal Wafd party.
Those at the meeting–and dozens more groups – had objected to Article 5, which stipulates that two-thirds of seats would be on a party list system and the rest for independents.
Saturday’s meeting comes a day after thousands flocked to Tahrir Square to demand an end to military trials of civilians, cleansing institutions of former regime remnants, amendment to a recently published electoral law and social justice.
Several thousand protesters are also demanding the country’s military rulers put an end to emergency laws dating back to the rule of ousted President Hosni Mubarak.
The much-hated laws give police almost unquestionable powers and activists say they are to blame for much of the human rights abuse that occurred under Mubarak, who was ousted in February after a popular uprising.
Friday’s rallies in Cairo as well as in other cities were held under the banner “Reclaiming the Revolution”.
The latest criticism of the ruling military council also centers on a law governing the parliamentary election process which is widely-believed to favor Mubarak-era officials. Activists and political parties are threatening a boycott of elections scheduled at the end of November.
SCAF has been in power since Mubarak was ousted and has repeatedly stressed its commitment to democracy.
Protesters have been gathering at Tahrir Square on an almost weekly basis to express anger and frustration at the military’s handling of the transition.
Several arrests were made on Friday after some of the protesters were prevented from heading to the defense ministry.
Others said they would remain in the square until their demands were met.
On Tuesday, SCAF laid out the timetable for the first post-Mubarak elections, which will start on November 28 and take place over four months.
A presidential election is expected to be held next year.
The Democratic Coalition, which groups dozens of parties including the Muslim Brotherhood and Wafd, has threatened to boycott the vote.
Under Mubarak, candidates affiliated with his party used patronage or pressure to garner votes.
Activists say that a proportional list system would help avoid that, because voters would be electing candidates based on a party's political platform, circumventing candidates' personal power and influence.