Egypt will celebrate with pomp and parade the revolt that unseated president Hosni Mubarak, making January 25 an official public holiday, a member of the ruling military council said on Wednesday.
“The armed forces will organise a big celebration on January 25 in line with the momentous event,” General Ismail Etman said.
January 25 — when protesters took to the streets across the country to call for democratic change and the downfall of Mubarak’s regime — will now be considered a “national day,” he said.
Etman described last year’s 18-day revolution as “the biggest and greatest event” in Egypt’s contemporary history, and equal to the July 23, 1952 revolution led by military officers that ended the monarchy.
Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, Mubarak’s long-time defence minister who now heads the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), has vowed to hand power to civilian rule as quickly as possible.
But activists accuse the military of trying to maintain its grip on power. The SCAF has also come under fire for heavy-handed tactics during clashes between anti-military protesters and security forces that left dozens dead in October and November.
“Five months only remain before power is handed over, on a golden plate, to an elected civilian regime,” said Etman, referring to presidential elections due in June.
He also insisted that for Egypt’s military rulers, “stability is the main goal until the wheel of investments, tourism and economy starts turning.”
According to Etman, three major celebrations will mark the revolution, symbolised by the protests in Cairo’s iconic Tahrir (liberation) Square on January 25.
They will be as important as “anniversaries for the October (6, 1973) victory against Israel and the July 23 (1952) Revolution” that toppled the monarchy, Etman said.
One celebration will be “totally undertaken by the youth in Tahrir Square” while the second will be an official event and the third will be organised by businessmen on February 10, when the SCAF first addressed the nation, he said.
Mubarak stepped down on February 11, 2011.
The armed forces will organise parades, air shows and fireworks displays across Egypt, and military helicopters will drop prize certificates in 19 governorates.
In addition, “all the leaders of the armed forces who witnessed the January revolution will also be honoured,” added Etman.
According to Etman, a third of army recruits over the past year hail from revolutionary youth ranks, and some confronted protesters in the clashes that shook the capital last October and November.