- Middle East/North Africa
More than 1 million Egyptians have signed petitions urging the military to take over the country, the activist 25 January Revolutionaries Coalition claimed Wednesday.
The signatures are evidence that many citizens want the Muslim Brotherhood removed from power, said Tamer al-Gendy, the coalition's coordinator. He also claimed they provide legal and popular justification for the Army to take over and lead yet another transitional period during which a new constitution could be drafted and a national salvation government formed.
However, a Justice Ministry spokesperson said no more than 800,000 signatures have been submitted on officially notarized petitions.
Gendy blamed Egypt's divisions and economic troubles on the Brotherhood organization, which rose to power during elections following the 2011 revolution. President Mohamed Morsy, a Brotherhood leader until he resigned his post when he won office, also continues to ignore the people's demands by keeping controversial Prosecutor General Talaat Abdallah in place and defying the opposition and judges, Gendy said.
The petitions supporting a military takeover began circulating in Port Said, Suez and Ismailia in February. Residents of these governorates said they were fed up with political unrest, and frustrated by the month-long curfew Morsy imposed in January after deadly clashes broke out between protesters and police. The wave of violence was triggered by the 26 January court ruling in the Port Said Stadium massacre case.
Although the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces was often the object of public anger during the transition following President Hosni Mubarak's 2011 resignation, Jihad leaders have also said they want the military restored to power.
Jihad leader Nabil Naeem told Al-Masry Al-Youm the military should seize power in a coup and rule the country for the next two years, during which time it would draft a new constitution and hold parliamentary elections followed by presidential elections.
Naeem accused the Muslim Brotherhood of seeking to destroy the judiciary and media and to ignite strife between Muslims and Christians, based on what he described as mismanagement of the country and Morsy's failed policies.
Jihadis have organized the signature campaign to authorize Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to run the country, according to Naeem, in coordination with what he describes as “revolutionary forces.”
Mohamad Abou Samra, secretary general of the Jihad organization’s Islamic Party, accused the Brotherhood of inaction in applying Sharia. The current government has failed to face the problems of the nation, he said, and must be changed urgently before more economic and political turmoil erupts.
A leader of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, Karem Radwan, responded by describing the calls for a military takeover as an assault on legitimacy and the people's will. He said the group and all revolutionary groups reject such calls and that the Army would not seize power because it seeks to maintain a civil state.
The tradition of citizen petitions in Egypt came about after World War I, when thousands of people submitted petitions authorizing politician Saad Zaghloul and his coalition to speak on behalf of the public at a reconciliation conference in Paris, during which Egypt demanded independence from the British.
The tradition was revived in 2009, when 1 million people signed a petition authorizing Mohamed ElBaradei to represent them during discussions over constitutional amendments and political reform.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm