The four-and-and-half-hour marathon of a debate didn’t bring much you didn’t expect. But that’s not to say it wasn’t a landmark moment in Egypt’s transition to democracy. Though the program was an almost comical compilation of epic music sequences and game show-type countdowns, its production was an important symbol: These candidates are battling for the Egyptian people’s support – not something of which many other Arab countries can boast.
Producers styled the debate after those in Western countries such as the United States and France. Candidates answered 24 questions and had ample time to direct queries of their own. A full transcript can be read in English here.
Hit the jump for three takeaways from the Arab world’s first-ever presidential debate:
Mostly good news from the state-owned Ahram Online today: The presidential election will be held on schedule, despite a court ruling that briefly suspended the race.
The reassurance, however, was tainted by the evident disconnect between actors. Lack of communication – or rampant miscommunication – between elected lawmakers and the military-backed government is continuing to take its toll on the prospects of an orderly transition.
More from Ahram:
The court in the Nile Delta city of Benha cited administrative errors, namely that the law does not give the SPEC ultimate powers to call for elections.
However, a judicial source informed AFP that the ruling will be appealed in Cairo on Thursday and is expected to be overturned because the country’s de-facto military rulers, who exercise executive authority, delegated these powers to the electoral commission.
According to legal experts, Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) could also call for elections to rectify the SPEC’s error. MP Essam Sultan and judge Mohamed El-Garhi, deputy head of the State Council, said that If the country’s de-facto leader and head of the SCAF, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, calls for presidential election, the court decision suspending polling could be easily overturned.
Apologies for the lack of posts this week. Course work and a trip to the Kentucky Derby to see America’s finest were the culprits. Look for more this afternoon.
Violent clashes continued in Cairo today, as SCAF pushed back protesters outside the Ministry of Defense. It’s difficult to comment at this point as to the number of resulting casualties, though reports range from around 120 to as many as 300.
More from Al Jazeera:
Egyptian armed forces and protesters have clashed in Cairo, with troops using water cannon and rocks to disperse demonstrators trying to reach the defence ministry.
Hundreds of troops guarding the ministry surged forward on Friday when protesters began cutting through barbed wire used to seal off the ministry building in the capital’s central Abbasiya neighbourhood
Hit the jump for chilling tweets, photos and videos from those at the scene.
Egypt’s manic-depressive political climate has only worsened this week as miscommunication between the ruling military the public have led to increasing confrontation.
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces renewed claims Thursday that they plan to transfer power to a civilian government no later than July 1, according to Al Jazeera. State television reported that the ruling generals would even consider beginning the transition a month early – if an outright winner emerges in the presidential election’s first round, slated for May 23-24.
But the news comes only a day after at least 11 protesters were killed in demonstrations outside the Ministry of Defense in Cairo. Activists were attacked by armed thugs widely believed to be connected to the military, and state peacekeeping units were deployed a full 12 hours after the violence erupted. The bloodshed subsided soon after the military’s arrival Wednesday, leaving many to wonder why forces weren’t mobilized sooner.
Hit the jump for more, including a video from the scene of yesterday’s protests.
At least 11 people were killed and 160 more wounded Wednesday as unidentified thugs attacked protesters outside the Ministry of Defense, Reuters reports. The demonstrations called for an end to military rule.
Leading Islamist candidates Abdel Moneim Abul-Fotouh suspended their presidential campaigns in the aftermath of the violence. Hit the jump for the full Storify piece, which includes Tweets and pictures from Egyptians at the scene.
Fun fact: the Egyptian presidential campaign officially started today.
After weeks of turbulence that included a birther argument, disqualification of 10 candidates and everything in between, campaigns for Egypt’s first-ever free presidential election began in earnest Tuesday. The official start of election season comes as Egypt sits in a precarious geopolitical situation and the post-Mubarak Egyptian political system has all but crumbled. Three weeks can’t pass quickly enough.