Egypt: A Coup or a Revolution?

General Shaheen
General Shaheen ata recent press conference

There is growing worry across Egypt that the uprising that ended the dictatorial regime of Hosni Mubarak is turning out to be a coup de’ tat, rather than a democratic revolution. Egyptians are now planning to occupy the Defense Ministry in protest.

Protesters believe the army wants to maintain a degree of power ahead of the forthcoming presidential elections. Egyptians fear the polls would be rigged in favour of a pro-military candidate.

In the past five days, at least 13 Egyptians have been killed and hundreds injured in clashes with soldiers and their civilian supporters during demonstrations against military rule. The military on Saturday ordered 300 people detained after Friday’s clashes.

On Sunday the military imposed an overnight curfew in the defense ministry district for a third night following deadly clashes with protesters.

The curfews will continue into Tuesday.

“I do not understand how some are attempting to break into the ministry. Where’s the state and what is the point of this invasion?” Major General Mamdouh Shaheen asked journalist at a press conference on Saturday.

“Everyone is starting to think that there is complete chaos in Egypt. How could an Egyptian want to occupy the Defense Ministry?” Shaheen added.

Despite the protests, the generals have vowed to retain their influence, immunity and commercial empire- a position that has unsettled many pro-democracy Egyptians.

According to Gen. Shaheen, “The relationship between the people and the military is historic and eternal, it didn’t begin with the current Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.”

After Mubarak’s fall, the military took over the country with a promise to transform the nation into a democracy. But Egyptians have grown weary of the Egyptian military who are assigned a role far larger than defending the borders in the Egyptian constitution.

Nonetheless, the military say they do not intend to rule Egypt.

At their news conference on Saturday, the generals stated that they intended to leave power on June 30. They noted with pride that Egypt is now in the midst of the first competitive presidential election in its history, after free and fair parliamentary elections just a few months ago.

“If we wanted to commit fraud, we would have done it at the parliamentary elections. A military coup, is this our plan? After all this?” General Shaheen asked.

Some countries have expressed concerns over the specter of military power behind the Egyptian political scenes. This follows the generals’ insistence on preserving their political influence three weeks ahead of Egypt’s first presidential election since Mubarak’s ouster.