CAIRO: January 25 was declared a national holiday in Egypt to commemorate the 18-day revolt that toppled president Hosni Mubarak, the ruling military council said Wednesday.
Military leaders who witnessed the revolution will be decorated with honorary medals as part of the days-long celebration, General Ismail Etman told reporters.
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) took power after a popular uprising ousted Mubarak on Feb. 11. Hailed first as heroes, the generals’ relationship with activists has soured over the months after repeated deadly crackdowns on peaceful protests.
The call for celebration contradicts activists’ calls for protests on that iconic day to reiterate many of the demands of the 2011 uprising as well as work towards democracy by forcing the ruling council out of power to be replaced by a fully civilian authority.
Etman pointed out that one third of the military troops drafted since Jan. 25 are revolutionary youth and some of them helped secure Maspero, the state TV building, and Mohamed Mahmoud Street — both sites of deadly crackdowns on protests that left 27 and 45 dead, respectively.
"The military leaders are being given medals for killing protesters in Mohamed Mahmoud and Maspero? Is that what the military really wants?" Ingi Hamdy, media coordinator of the April 6 Youth Movement, told Daily News Egypt in response to Etman’s statements.
Etman added that all eyes are set on “post-revolution” Egypt, awaiting a state of calm and stability to prevail.
"We want to give the world a lesson that the Egyptian people will not follow [a path] that would harm Egypt," Etman said, adding that stability is the main goal that will lead to reviving productivity and tourism.
He added that only five months remain until power is handed over "on a golden platter" to an elected civilian authority.
The armed forces will hold an official celebration on Jan. 25 similar to celebrations commemorating the 1952 coup d’état on July 23. Thirteen performers will participate, including a folk band that will tour Al-Arish, Alexandria, Marsa Matrouh, El-Nouba and Suez.
A parallel celebration will be held in Tahrir Square, in coordination with the Ministry of Culture, without any interference from the military forces or the Ministry of Interior.
Another celebration will be held by a number of businessmen on Feb. 10, to commemorate the ouster of Mubarak (who stepped down on Feb. 11), following 30 years of autocratic rule.
However, the April 6 Movement along with other prominent activists and groups have called for mass protests on Jan. 25 to call on SCAF to immediately hand over power to the head of the People’s Assembly. They want presidential elections 60 days later.
"If SCAF really wants stability, they should hand over power to the head of parliament immediately," Hamdy said.
However, Ahmed Abou Baraka, leader in the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), said there was no legal basis for this demand.
"The people have chosen and agreed to the timeline set by SCAF to write the constitution, and then hold presidential elections by the end of June," Abou Baraka told DNE.
People’s Assembly elections kicked-off on Nov. 28 with Islamists sweeping the polls. The PA will be seated on Jan. 23, days after the final results are announced.
Deadly clashes in November spurred mass protests that called for an immediate transition to civilian rule, at which point SCAF said it would hand over power by the end of June, the first concrete date it announces following the six-month deadline SCAF had initially promised.
Prominent political parties including the FJP and Al-Wafd said they would participate in the festivities of Jan. 25, not the protests.
On its part, Al-Wasat Party said in a statement Tuesday that it would participate in festivities commemorating the martyrs, while reiterating demands that SCAF hand over power to a civilian authority by April 2012.
The statement suggested starting the presidential elections process on Jan. 25.