CAIRO - Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians returned to Tahrir square on Friday, April 13, to block the staff of ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak from running in May's presidential election, in an Islamist show of strength against the fallen regime's old guard.
"Suleiman, do you think this is the old days?" chanted the protesters gathered in Tahrir square, the cradle of the uprising that swept Mubarak from power last year, Reuters reported.
The protest in Tahrir Square, in central Cairo, was called by the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups.
It says Omar Suleiman's candidacy is an attempt by members of the former Mubarak regime to regain power.
Muslim Brotherhood supporters waved the group's green flag and the red, white and black Egyptian national colors.
"The people demand the fall of the regime," they chanted, a slogan used during the anti-Mubarak uprising.
"Down, down with military rule," they chanted. They also sang the national anthem.
Protesters also held banners showing Suleiman and Mubarak alongside the Star of David, depicting both as agents of Israel because of policies that included Egypt's role in enforcing a blockade on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, which borders the Arab state.
Another major protest was held in Alexandria against Mubarak's old guard.
Egypt has had a peace treaty with Israel since 1979 but Mubarak's Middle East policy, in large part managed by Suleiman, became the focus of ever sharper public criticism in his last years in power.
Mubarak appointed Suleiman as his vice president in his last days in power. Suleiman, 74, publicly engaged the Brotherhood and other opposition forces during a failed effort to quell the uprising.
Shater, the Brotherhood candidate, has described Suleiman's candidacy as an insult to Egyptians who rose up against Mubarak.
Suleiman and the military deny claims that his candidacy represents an army bid to keep control of the post held by ex-military men since the monarchy was overthrown in 1952.
No Old Guard
The protest came as the Egyptian parliament passed on Thursday a legislation that would stop Mubarak's old guard from running in May's elections.
The ban would prevent both Suleiman and Ahmed Shafiq, who served as prime minister in Mubarak's last days in power, from running on the grounds they served in top posts under Mubarak.
However, analysts doubt the law will be enacted by the ruling generals, setting the stage for more tension.
The SCAF, which took over when Mubarak stood down on February 11, 2011, is widely seen as backing Suleiman's candidacy for president.
"The people want to bring down the military!" protesters chanted on Friday after the SCAF on Thursday insisted it "does not back any of the presidential candidates," Agence France Presse (AFP) reported.
"No to Shafiq, no to Suleiman -- we will return to Tahrir!" the demonstrators warned.
The council of army generals that has been running Egypt since Mubarak was deposed is due to hand power to an elected president on July 1.
The vote, Egypt's first real presidential election, is due to get under way on May 23-24 and will likely go to a run-off in June between the top two candidates.
Frontrunners include the Muslim Brotherhood's Khairat al-Shater, Salafi sheikh Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, ex-Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa and Shafiq.