In Cairo, up to a million people gathered on Friday in and around Liberation Square, the focal point of a popular revolution which toppled the four-decade regime of former dictator Hosni Mubarak in February.
The protesters called for an end to the rule of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces which took over after Mubarak’s ouster, and voiced their opposition to SCAF’s nomination of Mubarak-era official Kamal el-Ganzouri as prime minister.
The calls were soon joined by Egyptians army officers, who supported popular demands for a civilian government and opposed the junta choice to head the transitional government.
“The Supreme Council of Armed Forces does not reflect the whole Egyptian army,” said Egyptian Army Captain Ahmed Shouman. “We must be in cohesion with the Egyptian people once again. This is the best way. We must resort to the essence of the revolution,” he stressed.
Shouman expressed regret about the crackdown on anti-junta protesters over the past days and described it as a sign of the despair of the remnants of the Mubarak regime, who want to stay in power.
The captain recalled that the people’s demand since the start of the uprising in Egypt has been the establishment of a civilian government. He then called for the formation of a “real parliament” representing the Egyptian people and their demands.
The SCAF has a six-month mandate to help set up a transitional government and hold elections, but the junta is receiving dictations from outside Egypt, Shouman stated, without explaining where the junta receives commands from. “We must represent our people not the outside world,” he urged, addressing the military.
On the nomination of Ganzouri, he expressed doubts about whether the former prime minister was the appropriate choice given the current situation in Egypt.
Another Egyptian army official also expressed regret over the killing of more than 41 protesters in the past week, and called for the junta to meet popular demands.
“I have been a military man for a long time,” said Army Major Amr Metwaly, producing his ID card. “It does not matter if we represent the Egyptian civilians or the armed personnel. But most important of all is that we are all from Egypt; we stand side by side with the revolutionaries and we stand in support of the revolution,” he said.
He condemned the killing of protesters as being part of a Western plot to derail the revolution in Egypt. He denounced the junta’s stance against the revolutionaries and the use of excessive force against protesters.
Metwaly also echoed his comrade’s remark on the presence of Mubarak-era elements in the defense ministry and the ruling military council.
He said Egyptians are against outside intervention from the West and above all the United States, which has made numerous attempts to hijack the Egyptian revolution.
The major called on Egypt’s military ruler Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi to respect popular demand, step down and stand trial in a civilian court. He also urged the junta to hold national referendum for the people to decide on the future of their country.
Metwaly vowed the army personnel would not back off on their pledge to support the Egyptian people and would live up to their duty of maintaining security for the Egyptian public. He expressed hope that the ruling junta would step down in a week’s time at longest and people’s demands would then be met.