Cairo: The ruling military council’s move to assume new powers prompted protests in Egypt on Tuesday.
Latest reports suggest thousands of people had gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square - the hub of the uprising that ousted president Hosni Mubarak - to demonstrate against the latest move by the military council. Most of them were seen chanting against Mubarak’s military successors.
The call for the protests was given by the Muslim Brotherhood, whose candidate Mohammed Mursi has claimed victory in last week's Presidential Election.
Mursi’s opponent, former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq, too has claimed win.
While the elections were underway, the Generals had dissolved Parliament and claimed all legislative power for themselves.
Activists are calling the move of the military council as a "military coup".
The Generals’ Western allies also share unease over political Islam but accuse the Army of abusing hopes for democracy.
With Sunday's Presidential Election result still unannounced, both Islamists and Army, however, seemed ready to step back from a clash neither wants and which dismays Egyptians who yearn for an end to the political paralysis and uncertainty wrecking the economy.
The United States, which funds, arms and trains the Middle East's biggest Army to the tune of USD 1.3 billion a year, rebuked Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi's Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) on Monday and urged it to hand over to civilians.
Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Tuesday that Britain too was "concerned", including about new military powers to detain civilians: "This is a critical moment in the process towards democratic, civilian-led government in Egypt," he said.
"It is vital that the transition leads to legitimate, accountable and democratic governance."
The election committee refuses to offer any results from the weekend's Presidential run-off until Thursday. The Brotherhood again offered a detailed national count giving its candidate, Mohammed Mursi, a comfortable win by 52 percent to 48 over former general Ahmed Shafiq, Hosni Mubarak's last prime minister.
Shafiq's camp shot back that they have a 1-point lead. But Army and election committee sources said the count does show Mursi winning. The military seems to be preparing for that - not least by dissolving the Islamist-led Parliament last week and issuing a decree as polls closed that will preserve much of its own power well beyond a July 1 deadline for civilian rule.
First Published: Wednesday, June 20, 2012, 00:08