Egyptian’s people power flexes at Cairo’s iconic Tahrir Square to denounce a power grab by the ruling military, as the nation nervously awaited the results of the first post-Mubarak presidential election.
In a TV statement, the military warned that ‘any attempt to manipulate’ the results of the recent presidential election would not be tolerated.
The Supreme Council for the Armed Forces (Scaf) said its decision to issue the decrees was ‘a must’ and the nation was overwhelmed by a state of confusion.
Members and supporters of the powerful Muslim Brotherhood gathered in the square for the protest on Friday, which was to be joined later in the afternoon by several secular movements.
Those camping out overnight demanded military rulers reverse new orders that entrench the generals’ power and called on the election commission to declare the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi president.
On Tuesday, the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) announced that Mr Mursi, its chairman, had received 51.74% of the vote, citing official figures provided to both candidates by the Higher Presidential Election Commission (HPEC).
But on Thursday evening, Mr Shafiq made his first public appearance since the election to claim victory for himself.
At a televised address to whooping and cheering supporters, Shafik said: “These protests in the squares, the campaigns of terror and the media manipulation are all attempts to force the election committee to announce a particular result.”
Speaking in person rather than through spokesmen as he has through the week, he added: “I am fully confident that I will be the legitimate winner.” He called for calm and unity, saying he would invite opponents to join his administration.
The Election Commission did not say when it would announce the winner of the runoff. But its secretary-general, Hatem Begato, told the state newspaper Al-Ahram that the winner would be announced on Saturday or Sunday.
The commission said the announcement was postponed from Thursday because a panel of judges must look into about 400 complaints of voting fraud submitted by both campaigns, including lawyers for Shafik claiming fraud in 14 of Egypt’s 27 provinces.Egyptians pack Tahrir to slam military ‘coup’.
On Thursday, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said it held concerns over the military’s commitment to hand over power to civilian rule.
“The generals’ relentless expansion of their authority to detain and try civilians now goes far beyond their powers under Hosni Mubarak,” Joe Stork, HRW Middle East director, said in a statement
“These decrees are the latest indication yet that there won’t be a meaningful handover to civilian rule on June 30,” Stork added.