Egyptian protesters fill Cairo´s Tahrir Square (BBC) British Broadcasting Company) 20 April 2012 Last updated at 13:29 GMT)
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Tens of thousands of protesters have massed in Tahrir Square in the
Egyptian capital, Cairo, to demonstrate against continuing military
Supporters of a variety of political groups, including Islamist,
liberal and leftist forces, entered the square - a regular focal
point for rallies.
Many are angry at the disqualification of popular presidential
The first presidential poll since Hosni Mubarak was ousted from power
last year is due to be held next month.
When the military took power it promised only to hold power until the
election results were announced in June.
However, critics accuse it of not being committed to reform and of
trying to stay in control through a proxy leader.
Some protesters in Tahrir Square chanted: "In Syria, the people are
besieged by Bashar Assad and here we are besieged by Egypt´s military
Islamist groups decided to back the rally, in part because of the
recent barring of two prominent Islamist presidential hopefuls.
Khairat al-Shater had been the candidate for the powerful Muslim
Brotherhood´s Freedom and Justice Party, but was disqualified due to
a conviction under the Mubarak era.
Popular ultra-conservative Salafi preacher Hazem Abu Ismail was
barred because his mother allegedly held a US passport.
Their supporters accuse the ruling generals of "hijacking" the
Omar Suleiman, a former intelligence chief and ally of Mr Mubarak,
was also deemed ineligible.
Mr Mubarak, who was forced out in February 2011 amid mass
demonstrations, is being detained in a military hospital awaiting a
verdict in a corruption and murder trial.
Jon Leyne BBC News, Cairo
This is probably the biggest demonstration here since last November,
but what is even more significant is the range of opposition forces
They are united by a range of issues, but particularly the
disqualification of a number of presidential candidates.
They are trying to put maximum pressure on the military to ensure a
free and fair election next month, and also that the handover of
power to civilian rule goes ahead as planned at the end of June.
The gathering is yet another warning to the ruling Supreme Council of
the Armed Forces (Scaf) that if there is not seen to be a proper
transition to democracy then Egypt could be in for a second
The well-organised demonstration is peaceful, but takes Egypt into a
new, tense phase that could last for several months. (© BBC MMXII
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