France urges handover of power to civilians ahead of Egypt elections
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France has urged Egypt's military rulers to hand over power to civilians as the country braced for more pro-democracy demonstrations on the eve of the first elections since its revolution.
"I believe the Egyptian authorities must impose public order in a different way and that it is time they hand over power to civilians," Interior Minister Claude Gueant told French media.
The minister’s appeal comes as Egypt was braced for fresh demonstrations on Sunday amid a tense standoff between the country's military rulers and pro-democracy protesters.
Protesters have again occupied Cairo’s symbolic Tahrir Square, where hundreds of thousands gathered to demand president Mubarak's ouster in February, but this time their target is the military rulers who stepped in to fill the void left by his departure.
The Revolution Youth Coalition said it planned a million-person march on Sunday in protest at the appointment of new 78-year-old caretaker prime minister Kamal al-Ganzuri by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).
Among the main demands is the "immediate formation of a national salvation government given full political and economic powers," the group said in a statement.
The demonstrators are said to fear that Egypt's temporary military rulers are looking to cling to power and consolidate their influence.
The generals, led by Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, have pushed back the original timetable for handing over power to a civilian government and have demanded a final say on all legislation concerning the army in the future.
They protestors also want the trial of those found responsible for the deaths of at least 42 people in last week's deadly confrontations between protesters and police, and a complete overhaul of the interior ministry.
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