CAIRO _ Egypts beleaguered military council said Thursday that it would press ahead with a parliamentary election Monday, though it acknowledged many violations by security forces, whose efforts to clear out protesters backfired and triggered a wider uprising just days before the landmark vote.
We will not delay elections. This is the final word, Maj. Gen. Mamdouh Shaheen of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces told a news conference in Cairo.
Several Egyptian politicians had called for a two-week delay in order to restore calm to the capital and other restive cities after clashes between protesters and security forces that left at least 38 people dead and some 2,700 wounded since last weekend.
Thousands of protesters who remained in downtown Cairos Tahrir Square, the epicenter of Egypts uprising against Mubarak and an iconic space to other Arab revolutionaries, vowed to continue with plans for a rally Friday to demand that the military rulers cede power immediately to a civilian transitional authority. Many of them said theyd boycott an election overseen by generals who either allowed security forces to attack or were powerless to stop them.
All those people on the square vowed not to vote, and I will not vote, said Galal Mahmoud, an engineer. What elections are they talking about with all this bloodshed and violation?
The military council repeatedly has refused to either step aside or to delay the vote, sticking to plans for a handover in mid-2012 after accelerated presidential elections. Abdelmoez Ibrahim, head of Egypts electoral commission, told reporters that timely elections were the lifeline that will get us through this phase.
The council also pledged to form a new caretaker government _ which presumably still would fall under military authority _ by Monday, when Egyptians will vote in the first election since former President Hosni Mubaraks ouster in February.
Late Thursday, news reports said, the council appointed a new interim prime minister: Kamal el Ganzoury, 78, who served as Egypts premier from 1996 to 1999. Ganzoury was a relatively popular prime minister who was unceremoniously pushed out by Mubarak in a move that garnered Ganzoury some sympathy.
It was unclear whether Ganzoury would be accepted by the young protesters who are at the vanguard of the uprising. On social networking sites, they were quick to point out his age, his shared hometown with Mubarak and what some said was a record of rejecting dissent.
Ganzoury gained public pity when he was sacrificed by the Mubarak government, but pity is one thing and the national salvation government demanded by the people is another, said Emad Gad, a political analyst at the Ahram Center research institute in Cairo.
While concentrated in urban centers, this weeks violence was fierce enough to imperil the vote as questions rose over how the overstretched army and reviled police force could secure polling places. The military council apologized for the deaths, said it would investigate reports that live ammunition was used against civilians, and ended the news conference with a moment of silence for victims of the bloodshed.
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces presents its regrets and deep apologies for the deaths of martyrs from among Egypts loyal sons during the recent events in Tahrir Square, members of the council said in a rare mea culpa that was posted online.