CAIRO - Hundreds of Egyptians marched on Friday, June 1, to the iconic al-Tahrir Square to protest former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq's participation in the presidential election run-off, as millions of Egyptians awaited verdict on toppled Hosni Mubarak.
Protesters chanted, "down with the military rule, the people are a red line, according to a report published by the online edition of the state-run al-Ahram daily.
"Why Shafiq? Is Mubarak coming back?" others said.
Shafiq was Mubarak's civil aviation minister between 2001-2011 and was appointed by the then-president as a premier during the 18-day uprising in late January 2011 in a desperate attempt to quell protests.
Shafiq resigned from his post a few weeks after Mubarak stepped down under popular pressure.
A former air force commander, Shafiq has cast himself as a strongman who will restore law and order.
Opponents view him as the military's favorite.
The protesters also held banners with "save the revolution" and "Minister of justice: Where is the Disenfranchisement Law?" scrawled on them.
"How can the man who killed your brother become your president?" protesters chanted.
A number of political groups, including the Revolution Youth Union, Kefaya and April 6 Youth Movement, have called for mass rallies on Friday to demand the Disenfranchisement Law, also known as the Political Isolation Law, which was passed by parliament in April to be applied to Shafiq thus excluding him from the presidential race.
The election run-off is planned for June 16 and 17.
In the run-off vote for the presidency, Egyptians will choose between Ahmed Shafiq, an ex-military man and Mubarak ally, and Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood, which struggled for decades against a state that mostly repressed it.
Friday's protest comes as millions of Egyptians anticipate tomorrow's verdict in Hosni Mubarak trial for complicity over the killing of protesters last year.
"Justice will not be achieved," Ahmed el-Fekky, who was blinded in his left eye during the protests against Mubarak, told Reuters on Friday.
Mubarak and his co-defendants are being tried in an ordinary court, but more than 12,000 civilians have faced military courts since the army deployed across Egypt on January 28, 2011.
The charges related to rights abuses cover only a six-day period from the start of the revolt on January 25, 2011.
The verdict promised by Judge Ahmed Refaat more than three months after he closed the trial on February 22 is keenly awaited, not least because of its timing, bang in between two rounds of Egypt's first truly contested presidential election.
If Mubarak, 84, is convicted, he could face anything from three years in jail to the death penalty.
Few expect the ex-air force chief to hang, given his age and the perceived weakness of the prosecution case. Appeals could prolong the case for years.
"The last days of Mubarak's power are not what the people want put on trial," said Fikry Kharoub, the head of Alexandria's Court of Appeals, who filed his own case accusing Mubarak of high treason and disloyalty to the state throughout his rule.
"Egyptians will not settle for anything less than a fair trial, for themselves and their revolution," he told Reuters.
Under Egyptian law, the judge can base his ruling not just on evidence, but on the circumstances of the crime - meaning he could convict Mubarak in view of his political responsibility.
But the verdict on Mubarak, who has spent his time in custody in a luxury army-run private hospital in Cairo, may leave many Egyptians still hungering for a sense of justice.
"That will turn into deep hatred of the system and distrust of the judiciary," said plaintiff lawyer Khaled Abu Bakr.
"Anyone who sees the investigations against Mubarak will see that they were impartial. For the ordinary Egyptian citizen, this trial was superficial," he said.
"There is no doubt that an acquittal will be a major setback for the revolution."