April 20 - Tens of thousands gather in Cairo's Tahrir Square to demonstrate against ex-regime officials running for president and demand the military hand power to civilians. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT - NO REPORTER NARRATION Tens of thousands of Egyptians from across the political spectrum gather in Tahrir Square to put pressure on the country's military rulers to hold to their promise of handing over power to civilians and to insist that former regime officials be barred from upcoming presidential elections. Friday's protest takes place after a row over who could run in a presidential election fuelled doubts about the army's commitment to a democratic transition. Two leading Islamist candidates, one representing the Muslim Brotherhood, and who was seen as the frontrunner, were among those disqualified this week from a vote that starts on May 23-24, drawing a storm of criticism from supporters and the candidates. Khairat al-Shater, the Brotherhood's former candidate, said his ejection showed the generals, who have ruled since Hosni Mubarak was ousted last year, had no serious intention of quitting. The group is now fielding a reserve candidate. Friday's protest was the first time in months that both liberals and Islamists have held a demonstration under a common banner. Young activists and liberals in particular have felt excluded from Egypt's emerging political landscape after the revolution that they spearheaded, with Islamists dominating parliamentary elections and the Muslim Brotherhood going back on an earlier pledge not to field a presidential candidate. There was strong support in Tahrir for ultra-conservative Salafist preacher Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, one of the disqualified candidates. The election commission said Abu Ismail's mother had U.S. citizenship, disqualifying him. His supporters say the accusation is part of a conspiracy aided by the United States. Another candidate ejected from the race was Omar Suleiman, Mubarak's former spy chief and briefly his vice-president. His candidacy had raised fears the army wanted to roll back gains made since last year's uprising, but there are still others in the race seen as remnants of Mubarak's old order. Numerous banners with pictures of Mubarak's last prime minister and a former air force commander Ahmed Shafiq and Amr Moussa, a former foreign minister, both among the contenders, were also hung in the square, with demands that they be barred from the race.