HomeNewsEgypt parties say polls must go on despite protests

Egypt parties say polls must go on despite protests

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Most Egyptian politicians demanded on Tuesday that a parliamentary election proceed on time after days of protests against military rule but one party called for a delay of two weeks because of the security concerns.

The ruling army council asked the political parties and other figures to join crisis talks after the cabinet resigned over the violence that has cost at least 36 lives since Saturday. It has yet to accept or reject its resignation.

Egyptians are due to start voting for a new parliament on Monday in a staggered and complex election process for the upper and lower houses that will not be complete until mid-March.

“Elections must be held on time and we will push for a specific timetable for the transitional period,” Saad el-Katatni, secretary-general of the Muslim Brotherhood, which expects to do well in the election, told Reuters by telephone.

The Brotherhood and four other parties, as well as four presidential candidates, were invited to attend.

Former U.N. nuclear watchdog chief Mohammed ElBaradei, among those invited, refused to attend the talks, saying the solution to the crisis should come from the square and not army generals.

The Brotherhood said on Monday it wanted a handover to civilian rule no later than mid-2012, adding that changing the government could wait until after parliamentary elections.

Emad Abdel Ghafour, head of the Islamist Salafi Nour (Light) Party, said: “We demand that elections are held on time to ensure the transitional period stays the course,” said.

He said the party also wanted the removal of the interior and information ministers, describing their actions as “disappointing”.

Amr Moussa, a leading presidential candidate and former head of the Arab League, echoed the call for parliamentary polls to go ahead as planned, but said: “Presidential elections must follow suit within six months after that.”

However, the liberal Wafd party called for a two week delay of the first round, due on November 28, until “security and stability return to the streets” to ensure the safety of voters.

The military’s timetable calls for the new parliament to choose a 100-member constituent assembly to draw up a new constitution within six months. Only after a referendum approves the document, does it envisage a presidential election.

The council, which has exercised presidential powers since former President Hosni Mubarak’s overthrow in February, would thus be likely to stay in control until late 2012 or early 2013.

Youth protest groups were staying away from the meeting between politicians and generals.

“The revolutionary youth are not holding dialogue with the military council. The dialogue is going on in Tahrir square, not behind closed doors with the generals,” said Khaled Mardeya, a spokesman for the January 25 Revolution Coalition.

Anger against the military council exploded this month after a cabinet proposal to set out constitutional principles that would permanently shield the army from civilian oversight.

Opponents of military rule have demanded that the generals make way immediately for a national salvation government of civilians to manage Egypt’s transition to democracy.

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