Thursday, January 20, 2011
CAIRO/ALGIERS: Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood demanded Wednesday that President Hosni Mubarak dissolve the newly elected Parliament and hold new elections.
The statement came as an Egyptian tried to set himself on fire in Cairo, the latest in a series of self-immolations or attempted burnings in the Arab world apparently inspired by an act in Tunisia that prompted protests there.
The Brotherhood’s demand appears to be an attempt to build on the fervor in the region triggered by Tunisia’s uprising that ousted the country’s authoritarian president.
The statement also called for an end to Egypt’s 30-year-old emergency law that bans political rallies. It demanded sweeping constitutional amendments to allow free and fair presidential elections.
In Cairo, Hazim Abdel-Fattah, 35, an employee of a state water firm, poured fuel over himself in front of the governor’s office in central Cairo but people stopped him from setting himself alight, security sources said.
Abdel-Fattah is the fourth attempted self-immolation this week.
In Algeria, two people also set themselves on fire, bringing the total number of attempted public suicides to seven in a week.
A woman in her fifties soaked herself with an inflammable product and tried to set herself on fire when a local official convinced her to stop, the Al-Watan daily said, adding that she wounded only her hand as a result.
She was protesting in front of the town-hall in Sidi Ali Benyoub, southwest of Algiers, after being denied housing aid, the newspaper added.
A 35-year old man was also in critical condition after setting himself alight near the town-hall of Dellys, outside of Algiers, the report said.
“He was admitted [Tuesday] night in critical condition. Ninety-five percent of his body is covered with third-degree burns,” a hospital official told AFP.
Local officials told AFP that the man was mentally ill and that it was an isolated case unrelated to the recent spate of suicide attempts in Algeria.
Arabs in Egypt and many other regional states complain of soaring prices of basic goods, a lack of jobs, poverty and repression by authoritarian governments.
In Jordan, the Islamist opposition urged Wednesday constitutional amendments to curb the king’s power in naming government heads.
“We want constitutional amendments that would limit the king’s power in appointing whoever he wants to head a government without any constitutional restriction,” said Zaki Bani Rsheid, a head of the powerful Islamic Action Front (IAF). “The leader of the majority in Parliament should become prime minister, or get elected directly by the people,” he told AFP.
Under the Constitution, the king names and dismisses prime ministers.
Bani Rsheid said the IAF, the political arm of Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood, had “prepared a thorough study of the required amendments in the Constitution,” which was adopted in 1952.
Poverty levels are running at 25 percent in Jordan, according to several independent studies. – Agencies