You've got to hand it to the Egyptian military. If they're not going to rule Egypt directly, they've created conditions where their power will be almost unlimited.
The Friday throng, dominated by Islamist parties but including secular protesters as well, turned out ahead of upcoming parliamentary elections set to begin on November 28.
Mahmoud said the "Islamists and revolutionaries had left as they promised not have a sit-in." But stragglers remained, and he said many of the people who stayed in the square were families of those injured during the upheaval earlier this year that led to President Hosni Mubarak's departure from office.
Egypt has since been ruled by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. The military said it wants to transfer power to a civilian parliament and president.
But protesters on Friday were upset about proposed principles for the constitution, in which the military's budget would not be scrutinized by civilian powers. They worry that the military would be shaped as a state within a state.
The outpouring reflected the power of Islamist forces in Egypt, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party.
Those demonstrations occurred a day after hundreds of Coptic Christians marching in Cairo were attacked by unknown assailants. At least 32 people, including two police officers, were injured.
The protestors worries are justified. The military still runs the economy and the government. Writing a constitution that makes the military impervious to civilian control may be the price the Islamists will have to pay to take power after the elections.