Egypt refers 3 presidential hopefuls to prosecutor; U.S. urges probe of violence


Egypt’s Supreme Commission for Presidential Elections referred three presidential hopefuls to the public prosecutor for violating the campaigning rules, Al Arabiya reported on Thursday, as thousands of marchers flocked to the central Cairo neighborhood of Abbasiya, where they performed the Dawn prayers in solidarity with the protesters who were attacked a day earlier.

Former Muslim Brotherhood member Abdul Muniem Abul Fotouh, his rival Mohammed Morsi – the Brotherhood candidate – and former Arab League chief Amr Moussa are being probed over actions violating the rule of the presidential campaigns.

The commission said that the three candidates have organized campaigning conferences in the Assiut branch of al-Azhar University and the universities of Assiut and Mansura.

Meanwhile, the former Islamist candidates, Khairat al-Shater and Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, who were barred from the presidential race, were also referred to the public prosecutor, Al Arabiya reported citing the Commission.

Shater, a Muslim Brotherhood member, will be probed over insulting the Commission; while the Salafi Abu Ismail will be probed over forgery, as he had signed documents stating that his parents did not carry dual citizenship while his late mother carried the U.S. citizenship.

Solidarity marches

Meanwhile, thousands of Egyptian protesters marched Wednesday evening from Cairo’s Ramses neighborhood to an ongoing sit-in outside Defense Ministry headquarters in the nearby Abbasiya neighborhood in hopes of stopping the violence that has left at least 20 dead within the last 24 hours.

“Down with military rule!” protesters chanted, according to the online edition of the state-run al-Ahram daily. “Egypt’s a state, not a military camp!”

“Hussein Tantawi [head of Egypt’s Supreme Council for Armed Forces] is Mubarak!” others shouted. “Shame on the military, which kills revolutionaries!”

The United States said Wednesday it wants Egypt's interim military rulers to investigate the violence that led to the deaths of 20 people.

“We’re obviously very concerned about the recent violence in Egypt,” State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner told reporters, according to AFP. “We want to see an immediate end to this violence.”

“We want to see the government of Egypt investigate these events and hold those responsible for the violence accountable. We obviously support the rights of all individuals to peacefully protest,” Toner added.

The military council is expected to hold a press conference later Thursday on the developments of Wednesday clashes, the daily al-Youm al-Sabea reported.

Protesters set out from the Fath Mosque in Ramses and marched to Abbasiya in east Cairo to show solidarity with the hundreds of protesters and sit-in participants who were attacked on Wednesday by unknown assailants.

Presidential contenders Abul Fotouh and Khaled Ali were seen on the march, along with several members of candidate Hamdeen Sabahi’s electoral campaign, al-Ahram reported.

Political activists, members of the political movements and ordinary citizens were among the people participating in the march.

Four presidential hopefuls have temporarily suspended their campaigns to protest the renewed violence against political demonstrators.

Ongoing clashes between protesters and unknown assailants appeared to have come to a halt Wednesday afternoon following three days of on-again, off-again fighting.

The march was getting positive reactions from people in the street and the number of people joining the march was increasing, the daily Egypt Independent reported, adding that Abbasiya residents were cheering for the marchers from their balconies.

Troops and police deployed in the area around the Defense Ministry had not intervened in earlier attacks there and at first did nothing to stop the killings Wednesday, leaving the clashes to continue until noon when they moved in, al-Masry al-Youm reported.

But later in the afternoon, the armed forces withdrew from the Abbasiya, leaving behind Central Security Forces and a huge security cordon around the bus stop, the daily said.

(Translation and additional writing by Abeer Tayel)