Political forces push for cabinet’s removal

A number of political and activist groups and presidential hopefuls demanded Thursday that the People's Assembly withdraw confidence from the government of interim Prime Minister Kamal al-Ganzouri, after violence at a football match Wednesday night left at least 71 dead.

Riots broke out following a football match in Port Said between Masry, the local club, and Ahly, a Cairo-based team. Thousands of hardcore football fans, known as ultras, supporting Masry stormed the field following their team's rare victory and clash with Ahly Ultras, leaving at least 313 injured, according to the Health Ministry.

According to the Interim Constitution, the Parliament does not have the jurisdiction to withdraw confidence from the cabinet.

The politicians and activists want a new government that will genuinely work toward achieving the demands of the 25 January revolution, liberal Wafd Party head Al-Sayed al-Badawy said, reading a joint statement following a three-hour meeting at the party's headquarters.

Representatives from the Free Egyptians, Democratic Front, Wasat, and Reform and Development parties and the National Association for Change, as well as lawmakers and activists, attended the meeting. Presidential hopefuls Hazem Abu Ismail and Ayman Nour were also present.

The participants unanimously declared that since the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces is in charge of the country, it is fully responsible for the Port Said violence. Their statement also urged the People's Assembly to fulfill its duty to represent the people during Egypt's political transition and called for presidential elections to be held soon to end divisions among the people.

The interim cabinet and the SCAF held parallel meetings Thursday morning to discuss the Port Said riots. They are seeking possible solutions to alleviate public outrage over their leadership and demands to prosecute SCAF head Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi.

The state-run Middle East News Agency said all of the SCAF's members attended the meeting to discuss the consequences of the tragedy.

The council's official Facebook page has decried public outrage with the military council since the Port Said violence.

"Support your armed forces and police services, be their shield until they fulfill their mission and restore security and stability," read an administrator's post on the page.

Ganzouri also met with his cabinet's security committee, with Planning and International Cooperation Minister Fayza Abouelnaga, Finance Minister Momtaz al-Saeed, Manpower and Immigration Minister Fathy Fekry and Petroleum Minister Abdullah Ghorab all in attendance, according to MENA.

Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim spoke to the media before both meetings, defending the performance of security forces during the stadium rampage. Ibrahim told the satellite channel Modern Sport that the events were planned in advance by fans.

"It was not expected that the fans would storm the pitch after their team won the game," the minister said, in an attempt to justify security forces' inaction.

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