09/19/2011, 00.00
EGYPT
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Military and Muslim Brotherhood, dangerous players in the 21 November election

The military’s silence is a worrying sign. The young people of Tahrir Square are too divided and disorganised to play any major role in the country’s political debates.
Cairo (AsiaNews) – Egypt’s first post-Mubarak democratic elections will be held in November, the country’s ruling military council announced today in an informal statement reported in the media. Voting for the lower house, the People’s Assembly, will take place in three stages, the first on 21 November and the last on 3 January. Voting for the upper house will be held from 22 January to 4 March.

Except for the days of the election, Egypt’s military has not said much about the new democratic Egypt. “No one has a clue about what will happen after the vote,” sources told AsiaNews in Cairo. “For decades, the military had the last word about everything and will do everything to back those political forces that are allied to them.”

For sources, the military will not give up power easily. “Most of those on the council are former members of the old regime; for 30 years they were accomplices in crimes against the people even if now they want to make us believe that since Mubarak’s fall everything has changed.”

Muslim parties are the military’s best supporters. Since July, they have stopped their members from participating in demonstrations and sit-ins against the military.

The military’s decision to hold elections in November, so close to Mubarak’s downfall, was made to favour these parties against secular-oriented groups, which are still disorganised and lacking in visibility.

“The young people from Tahrir Square do not have any strong group, and have split up joining a myriad of small parties,” sources said. They are thus absent from political debates.

The Muslim Brotherhood is best placed in this election. In eight months, they have been able to reorganise and launch an effective election campaign.

“Islamic parties in a few months have gone from illegality to being all over the place, talking about the government, economy, social mores and religious freedom,” the sources explained.

The crisis with Israel has also helped extremists increase their influence. The review of the Camp David peace accord is widely supported across the country. In the coming months, this could become the battle cry for the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis, who have always been against any relations with Israel.

Still, Egyptians are still very much divided and any prediction is hard to make. Sources said that since the revolution in Tahrir Square, the population has split in two big blocks: the middle class and intellectuals who are in favour of the more moderate Islamic parties and farmers, who represent the largest pool of support for radical Islamic parties.

In addition, the families and movements connected with the victims of repression in Tahrir Square, who led anti-military demonstrations, are another major force. (S.C.)
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