Egyptian army hopes for elections in 6 months

Updated: 2011-02-16 11:04


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CAIRO - Egypt's military has outlined a timetable to hand power to an elected government, insisting it does not want political power in a country where it propped up an authoritarian state for six decades.

The army, praised for overseeing a mostly peaceful revolution, is running into a storm of wage and subsidy demands overtaking pressure for democracy and piling more burdens on an already teetering economy.

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Pro-democracy marches have subsided but thousands of workers in banks, textile and food factories, oil facilities and government offices went on strike this week, emboldened by the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak.

"The Higher Military Council expressed its hope to hand over power within six months to a civilian authority and a president elected in a peaceful and free manner that expresses the views of the people," an armed forces statement said on Tuesday.

"The council affirmed that it does not seek power, that the current situation was imposed on the armed forces and that they have the confidence of the people."

The Islamist Brotherhood, which did not play a leading role in the revolution but has been Egypt's best-organised opposition group for many years, said it wanted the military to carry out further steps immediately.

"We, together with the entire nation ... are in need of a bridge of confidence between the army and the people," Essam al-Erian, a senior Brotherhood member, told Reuters, referring to lifting emergency law and releasing political prisoners.

Egypt's central bank said banks would remain closed on Wednesday and Thursday after being closed on Monday by strikes.


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