Thousands of Egyptians have taken to the streets to voice their anger over a court decision to dissolve the Islamist-dominated parliament. Islamists hope the weekend's presidential vote will help them retain power.
Egyptians in cities across the country staged protests on Friday, proclaiming that military leaders had engineered a coup with the dissolution of parliament. But the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, which was dealt a heavy blow by the court ruling, pinned its hopes on a big election turnout to get its candidate, Mohammed Morsi, into office.
"Isolate the representative of the former regime through the ballot box," a Brotherhood statement said on Friday, referring to Ahmed Shafiq, the last prime minister under ousted leader Hosni Mubarak.
Morsi, who has portrayed himself as the defender of the revolution, warned against vote fraud, saying that it would cause a "revolution against the criminals."
The ruling military council said it was prepared to stop any disruptions to voting, which will take place Saturday and Sunday.
"Armed Forces troops have been deployed across the republic to secure the runoff process and head off irregularities or rioting that could prevent citizens from voting," it said in a statement.
The Supreme Court decision on Thursday had exacerbated a power struggle between the Brotherhood and former allies of Mubarak.
The judges, who were appointed by the deposed leader, declared the outcome of the parliament election held early this year as invalid. That effectively erases parliamentary gains made by the Muslim Brotherhood during the country's troubled transition to democracy.
In a further setback to the Brotherhood, the court ruled that Shafiq could stand in the runoff presidential election.
Public pressure forced Mubarak's departure from office in February last year during what became known as the Arab Spring. On June 2 this year he was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the killing of protestors.
ncy/ipj (Reuters, dpa, AP, AFP)