Scores of thousands of Egyptian protesters flocked to Cairo's Tahrir square on Friday to pressure the military junta to transfer power to elected civilian rule, after the interim cabinet tried to enshrine the army's role in a constitutional draft. The protesters were mostly from Islamist groups, but also from leftist parties. They demanded the withdrawal of the constitutional proposal and presidential elections be held no later than April 2012.
Parliamentary elections are set for November 28 but they could be disrupted if political parties and the government fail to resolve a dispute over proposed articles that shield the army from oversight in parliament, Reuters reported. . Egypt's Deputy Prime Minister Ali al-Silmi presented a constitutional draft to political groups earlier this month which would give the army exclusive authority over its internal affairs and budget.
Some 40 political parties and groups said in a joint statement they would march "to protect democracy and the transfer of power" after negotiations broke down between Islamist groups and the cabinet.
But the rallies were not limited just to Cairo. In the port city of Alexandria, thousands of Islamists and youth groups also held a mass rally and planned to head to a military base in a show of protest against the army.