Egyptian Politicians Accuse Military of Failing to Quickly Cede Power

Activists emerge from late Saturday meeting with military officials upset that the latter have not delivered on promises to lift state of emergency and end military tribunals for civilians.

Egyptian political figures and activists on Sunday expressed their anger at the ruling military council and 13 political parties after a meeting between the two sides failed to result in new decisions.

The crisis meeting late Saturday came a day after thousands of people protested in central Cairo's Tahrir Square to demand the lifting of the state of emergency and an end to military tribunals for civilians.

Egypt military council

The joint statement that followed afterwards did not meet the minimum ambitions of the people and the revolution and was only devoted to extending the transitional period, Abdel Moniem Abul-Fotouh, a potential presidential candidate, said. "If the military council had the will and the desire, they can hand over power in February or March of next year," Abul-Fotouh said.

Mustafa al-Naggar, the representative of the newly-founded Al-Adl party at the meeting, said he had revoked his approval on the statement issued by Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and left the final decision to the party's high committee after criticism from party members.

Members of the SCAF, which had been ruling the country since February, had promised the meeting a review ending the 30-year state of emergency and halt military trials of civilians and announce their decision within two weeks.

The council also promised to study the possibility of issuing a law to bar members of the disbanded National Democratic Party from practicing politics for two years.

Egyptian activists and political forces are critical of the country's military rulers at what they perceive as their foot dragging on erasing the legacy of the Mubarak regime.

The country’s top military ruler defended his testimony in the trial of ousted President Hosni Mubarak on Sunday, denying that the army was ordered to shoot protesters during the uprising earlier this year. Mubarak could face the death penalty if convicted of complicity in the killings.

Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi testified in Mubarak's trial on September 24 under a total media blackout. Leaks of his testimony suggested that he sought to absolve Mubarak of responsibility for the killing of more than 800 protesters during the 18-day uprising that forced him to step down. Tantawi was Mubarak's defense minister for some 20 years.