Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist groups will hold a mass protest in Cairo on Friday to demand that members of ousted president Hosni Mubarak's regime be barred from running for public office.
The Islamist groups -- which have dominated politics since the popular uprising last year toppled Mubarak -- are calling for the "protection of the revolution," in statements on their websites.
They object to former regime figures such as ex-intelligence chief Omar Suleiman and former foreign minister, Amr Mussa, running in the presidential election scheduled for May 23 and 24.
The protest comes as parliament discusses a draft law that would prohibit Mubarak regime members from running for public office, though the long process means it's unlikely the draft will become law before the election.
The call for protest signals an escalation by the powerful Brotherhood in its standoff with the ruling military council, which took power when Mubarak was ousted.
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The Brotherhood's candidate for next month's poll, Khairat El-Shater, had likened Suleiman's candidacy to an attempt "to steal the revolution" and warned it could set off another round of huge street protests.
But the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) insisted on Thursday that it was neutral when it came to the presidential candidates.
SCAF "puts the interest of the country above all else.... It does not seek to achieve any interests and does not side with one party over the other," it said in a statement.
SCAF "does not back any of the presidential candidates," it added.
Secular groups have called for a protest on April 20 to press for the goals of the revolution and to denounce what they say is the Islamist monopolisation of politics since the uprising.
They also want ex-regime figures banned from the presidency.