Leaving the square
Protesters end two weeks of demonstrations in Tahrir, reports Mohamed Abdel-Baky
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Protesters n Tahrir Square and Nasr City on Friday, before their numbers dwindled to tens
The Muslim Brotherhood has suspended its Tahrir Square sit-in protesting against the appendix that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) added to the Constitutional Declaration of last year. 6 April Movement spokesperson Mahmoud Afifi also confirmed that, along with several other youth groups, the 6 April Movement would also be abandoning Tahrir in order to give the newly elected president, Mohamed Mursi, a chance to persuade SCAF to abolish the recent amendments.
"We went to Tahrir before the announcement of the run-off results in order to press the military council to stop interfering in the democratic process and transfer power to a civilian administration," said Afifi.
According to Muslim Brotherhood Guidance Bureau member Mustafa El-Ghoneimi, "the Brotherhood believes ending the protests will allow President Mohamed Mursi space to restore the dissolved People's Assembly and exercise his full powers by cancelling the constitutional appendix."
The move has left the Brotherhood open to accusations that it called the sit-in in order to show its strength immediately prior to the announcement of the results of the run-off presidential vote.
Protesters in Tahrir Square had variously demanded an end to the dissolution of the People's Assembly and the cancellation of the 17 June appendix that had transferred many presidential prerogatives to the military council as well as giving the generals the right to appoint a new constituent assembly should the current body fail to draft a new constitution on time.
On Friday Mursi took a symbolic oath in Tahrir Square before tens of thousands of his supporters and gave a speech in which he said he would not allow any presidential powers to be taken away.
The Salafist Nour Party issued a statement saying its members would remain in Tahrir until the People's Assembly is allowed to reconvene. As Al-Ahram Weekly went to press, however, the square was empty of protesters.
Former presidential candidate Hazem Salah Abu Ismail gave a speech on Monday night in Tahrir urging his supporters to continue the sit-in until the military returned to barracks.
"SCAF is behind all the current mess," said Abu Ismail. "It wants to retain control of the country by limiting the powers of the president."
Afifi said that the 6 April Movement had concluded that remaining in Tahrir would only alienate public opinion at a time when the majority of Egyptians believed Mursi must be given some space to exercise presidential power. He praised the sit-in for forcing the Cairo Administrative Court to revoke the 13 June decree by the Minister of Justice Adel Abdel-Hamed allowing military police and intelligence officers to arrest civilians.
In Nasr City hundreds of supporters of failed presidential candidate Ahmed Shafik continued their own sit-in close to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
"Down with the rule of Brotherhood, down with Mursi who rigged the results of the election," the protesters chanted.
By Tuesday their numbers had dwindled to tens rather than hundreds.