Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, whose political arm put up a stunning performance during the first round of polling for the Lower House of Parliament, has reiterated its readiness to work together with its liberal rivals, who once again demonstrated their street power at Cairo's iconic Tahrir Square.
On Thursday, the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) issued a statement that denied that it had struck an alliance with the ultra-conservative Al Nour coalition, comprising mainly of activists of a Salafi ideological persuasion. The Salafists wish to work for the remaking of society based on principles traced to pristine Islam.
Though final results of the first round of polling that ended on Tuesday are yet to be declared, it is estimated through official media leaks that the FJP won 40 per cent of the votes. The Al Nour coalition is believed to have won 25 per cent of the vote, slightly ahead of the Egyptian Bloc, a combination of mainly liberal parties. In case it joins hands with the Al Nour, the Islamist bloc that will be formed will command a 65-per-cent super-majority — a situation that would cause acute discomfort in the non-religious camp.
But assuaging concerns of its detractors, a separate statement reiterated the FJP's intent to form an inclusive national unity government. The statement added that elections would most likely result in the formation of a “balanced Parliament that reflects the various components of the Egyptian public”.
On Thursday, the Brotherhood leadership had stated publicly that Egypt's interim military rulers need to vacate political space for the country's elected representatives who are expected to hold their first parliamentary session in mid-march. However, analysts say unless the Islamists and the Liberals prolong their functional unity, the military elite habituated to power, and supported by the West, is unlikely to give up the core levers of power.
On Friday, Egypt's youthful liberal protesters, despite their modest performance at the polls yet again demonstrated their crowd pulling power at Tahrir Square — a fact that Islamists are unlikely to ignore.
Thousands of protesters participated in the rally that called upon the ruling military council to hand over power to a civilian authority to steer, the country's political transition to democracy.
The April 6 youth movement, one of the chief architects of the Egyptian uprising that brought down the former strongman, Hosni Mubarak, called for the formation of a civilian “revolutionary salvation government”. It also slammed the appointment by the military of Kamal El-Ganzoury as interim prime serving under the military council. The rally projected presidential aspirants Hamdeen Sabahy and elder statesman Mohamed ElBaradei as the face of their movement.
Friday's demonstrations acquired a sharp emotional edge as they vividly recalled the memory of 42 people, who had recently died during pitched battles with the security forces at Mohamed Mahmoud Street—an alley located in close proximity to the Square that only a few days ago had been filled with teargas smoke. Hundreds of protesters led a symbolic funeral march to Tahrir, carrying mock coffins of those who had fallen during the course of the clashes.