CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt’s Islamist and liberal opposition began gathering in Cairo’s Tahrir square ahead of a mass rally on Friday to protest the military government’s plans to change the constitution to shield the army from legislative scrutiny.
Tents were pitched and sound stages set up as protesters returned to Tahrir square, the epicenter of an uprising that ousted President Hosni Mubarak from office in February, in what they said was an attempt to put “the revolution back on track.”
“There will be a big revolution tomorrow,” said a protester demanding rights for Egyptians killed and wounded in the revolution.
Deputy Prime Minister Ali al-Silmi showed a constitutional draft to political groups earlier this month which would give the army exclusive authority over its internal affairs and budget.
But negotiations over the plan between the government and Islamists and liberals have broken down, prompting political parties and democracy campaigners to protest.
“The protest on Friday is to reclaim power from the army and oppose Silmi’s document,” said Mohamed Fathi from the youth group the Front to Protect the Revolution.
Salafi parties and movements, who follow orthodox Islamic teachings, were the earliest to galvanize support for the Friday protest, with the Muslim Brotherhood and a number of liberal parties following suit.
“Our demands are the revolution’s demands ... our sit-in is open until we leave,” said protester Abdulla Ibrahim.
Any extended protest by demonstrators camping in Tahrir square could potentially destabilize preparations for a parliamentary vote due on November 28.
Political groups have demanded the military council announce a clear timetable for handing power over to an elected civilian government with a deadline for presidential elections no later than April 2012.
Additional reporting by Tamim Elyan; Writing by Marwa Awad; Editing by Sophie Hares