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Cairo rally to push election of leader

| Friday, Dec. 23, 2011

CAIRO -- Egyptian activists have called a mass rally in Cairo today against the army's handling of protests that killed 17 people and drew international criticism of the ruling generals.

Protesters who fought soldiers and police officers in the capital for five days until calm was restored this week want the ruling military council to cede power more swiftly than planned.

Some Egyptians, skeptical of the military's avowed commitment to democratic change, want a presidential vote as early as Jan. 25, the first anniversary of the start of the uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak, or at least much earlier than the mid-2012 handover now scheduled.

Students have called for Egyptians to join a protest with a march in Cairo.

"The current predicament we have reached is a result of the army council's reluctance to play its role, its intentional foot-dragging, breaking its obligations and failing over the economy and security, putting the whole country on the edge of a huge crisis," read a statement signed by two dozen parties, youth movements and others calling for the protest.

The Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, leading in Egypt's staggered parliamentary election and wary of derailing the vote that will secure its place in mainstream politics, said it would not join the protest.

The ultraconservative Salafist al-Nour Party said on its Facebook page that it would take part.

Many activists accuse the Brotherhood and other Islamists of betraying the protest movement in order to secure their positions in the emerging power structure.

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