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Egypt's military could hand over power this month

After protest clashes, the military sought to reassure all parties that it will hand over power to a civilian president. The first round of elections is May 23-24.

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Gen. Mohamed El Assar, a member of Egypt's ruling military council, is surrounded by military police as he leaves a press conference in Cairo, Thursday, May 3. Egypt's ruling military council is committed to handing over power to a civilian president by July as it promised, al-Assar said.

Amr Nabil/AP

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Egypt’s military rulers today reiterated their pledge to hand over power to a civilian president by July, a day after clashes in Cairo left at least 11 people dead and deepened concerns about the country's democratic transition.

Gen. Mohamed El Assar, one of three members of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) who spoke to reporters today, said the violence would not affect the power transfer.

“Since November 2011 we have repeated in every meeting and on every occasion that the armed forces and SCAF are committed to cede power by June 30, 2012,” he said. “We say it clearly again today: SCAF is committed to cede power on June 30 or even before.”

State television reported that a SCAF general said yesterday the council would consider handing power to a civilian president a month early if a president was elected outright and no runoff was necessary. Egyptians are scheduled to vote for the first president after Hosni Mubarak on May 23 and 24. A second round of voting will be held in June if no candidate wins a majority.

The generals’ remarks appeared to be an effort to allay concerns that Egypt’s rocky transition was once again veering off course. The run-up to the presidential election has been a roller coaster of controversy, as an elections commission disqualified several front-runners, and several candidates temporarily suspended their campaigns after Wednesday’s violence. 

Since massive demonstrations forced Mr. Mubarak from power in February 2011, the generals who took power delayed elections and appeared intent on protecting their own power and privilege after the handover. They also oversaw widespread rights violations on many fronts.

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