50,000 Protesters Pour into Tahrir Square; Tawadros II Enthroned

An estimated 50,000 protesters crowded Tahrir Square today. The crowds demanded that presidential elections be held before May 2012, sooner than the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) had been projecting. While some liberal parties declined to join the protesters because of the large presence of Islamist groups, they expressed concern that SCAF’s proposed process of writing a new constitution would lend the military excessive power.

Last week 24 members of the Constituent Assembly “froze their membership;” today, 15 of them officially withdrew from the body. Ahmed Maher, the April 6th Youth Movement General Coordinator, all but two members of the Wafd Party, and some reserve and technical members of the body also withdrew. With the addition of 11 members from the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, Free Egyptians Party, and Taggamu Party who had previously resigned from the 100-person body, a total of 35 individuals have now left the Constituent Assembly.

The Coptic Church also announced that its representative in the Constituent Assembly would be officially withdrawn from the body. The Ghad Al-Thawra Party retained membership in the Constituent Assembly. The body needs at least 67 members to pass a new constitution and currently has a December 12 deadline.

Two weeks after being selected to replace the deceased Pope Shenouda III, Bishop Tawadros was formally installed today as Pope Tawadros II of the Coptic Orthodox Church. Despite rumors of his planned attendance, President Muhammad Morsi was not present for the ceremony, though Prime Minister Hisham Qandil did attend.