Egypt: "Algeria scenario" feared

Thousands of Egyptians filled Cairo's Tahrir Square June 19 to protest the ruling military council's assumption of new powers, amid contesting claims by both presidential candidates of victory in the weekend's election. "General Ahmed Shafik is the next president of Egypt,'' said a spokesman for his campaign, asserting that the candidate won some 500,000 votes more than Muslim Brotherhood challenger Mohammed Mursi. Protesters chanted "Down with military rule!" The rally was jointly called by the Muslim Brotherhood and the April 6 Youth Movement to oppose a decree by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) dissolving the Islamist-led parliament, following a Supreme Constitutional Court ruling last week decried as a "military coup." (AlJazeera, June 19; Ahram Online, June 15; Aswat Masriya via AllAfrica, June 14)

Algerian Islamist leaders responded to the military power-grab by warning Egypt could descend into an "Algeria-like scenario" —a reference to the bloody decade-long civil war that ensued after the military annulled the 1992 elections after the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) won the first round. FIS founder el-Hachemi Sahnouni said he is "worried that the biggest Arab country might plunge into violence similar to what occurred in Algeria. If this happens, it will be a catastrophe not only for Egypt but for all of the Arab countries.”

As protesters again massed in Tahrir Square, Egyptian authorities announced the seizure of 101 surface-to-surface missiles in the Beheira governorate. State TV said Egypt’s Anti-Drug General Administration discovered the missiles, a launching pad, and dozens of hand guns loaded in two cars. An unnamed number of suspects were detained. (Al-Arabiya, June 19)

See our last post on Egypt and the Arab Spring.

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