Egyptian generals to cede power early
By Leila Fadel and Ernesto Londoño, The Washington Post
Updated: Tuesday, November 22, 1:21 PM
CAIRO – Egypt’s military chief announced Tuesday that the embattled armed forces leadership would hand over power to an elected president no later than July 1, 2012 – earlier than previously expected – even as he defiantly defended the military’s handling of mounting opposition protests.
In his first address to the nation since he took power in February, Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi appeared angry, accusing protesters of “insulting” the military despite its efforts to govern the nation during a difficult transitional period. He warned that “any other efforts aimed at hitting us and destroying our spirits and the trust between the armed forces and the people will not be helpful.”
“We never killed a single Egyptian, man or woman,” Tantawi said in his speech. “The Egyptian military believes it is part and parcel of the Egyptian people.”
As his speech ended, many protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square responded in unison with loud chants of “Get out! Get out! We will not leave! He will leave!”
The pledge to hand over power to a civilian leadership was first announced by presidential hopeful Mohammed Salim al-Awaa after a meeting with the ruling generals. The promise marked the biggest concession by the military leadership since anti-government protests began last weekend, mushrooming into a national revolt.
Awaa told the state-run news agency MENA that the generals agreed to halt the bloody clashes that have left at least 33 people dead, try individuals responsible for violence against protesters and release dozens of people arrested in the past four days.
After emergency meetings with civilian political leaders, the military council also said it would accept the resignation of Egypt’s caretaker cabinet and institute a national salvation government, MENA quoted Awaa as saying.
The cabinet, which offered to resign Monday to protest the crackdown by security forces, is still waiting for a written response from the generals, a spokesman said.
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