Egyptians rally against military ruleAgence France-Presse . Cairo
Thousands of people rallied in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Friday to protest against the ruling military and hold-overs from the regime of former president Hosni Mubarak’s.
The demonstration comes ahead of the first presidential election since the strongman’s ouster last year, to be held at the end of May.
Liberal groups had already called for the rally when, last week, the committee overseeing the election barred Mubarak’s vice president and spy chief Omar Suleiman and two leading Islamist candidates from standing.
Islamists, who swept parliamentary elections earlier this year, held a rally with similar demands in the iconic square last week that was avoided by many liberal groups, highlighting rifts since the uprising.
But the powerful Muslim Brotherhood, whose political arm dominates both houses of parliament, said it would throw its weight behind Friday’s protest, after its candidate, Khairet El-Shater, was disqualified.
Supporters of disqualified Salafist candidate Hazem Abu Ismail also joined the protest, carrying black flags emblazoned with Islamic slogans. Abu Ismail was barred because his late mother held joint US-Egyptian citizenship and the electoral law requires that candidates, their wives and parents carry only Egyptian nationality.
‘Down with military rule,’ chanted the protesters in the square, epicentre of the 18-day revolt that overthrew Mubarak in February 2011 and left the military in power.
Marches set off from several mosques around Cairo headed for Tahrir.
Suleiman, whom Mubarak appointed as vice president in the last days of his regime, was barred because he did not gather enough endorsements from across the country, as the electoral law requires.
His candidacy shocked the Brotherhood, which said it would escalate street protests if he continued to run, and the parliament it dominates rushed through a law to bar former regime figures from the election.
The Islamists accused the military of backing Suleiman and said claimed security services had helped gather the 30,000 endorsements he needed to nominate himself.
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