Friday, November 25, 2011

Egyptians Call Mass Demonstrations Friday to Oust Military Regime

Egyptians call for million-man march

Fri Nov 25, 2011 2:31AM GMT

Fireworks lite up the sky above Cairo's Tahrir Square during protests against Egypt's military rulers late on November 24, 2011.

Protesters against Egypt's military rulers continue to occupy Cairo's main Tahrir Square, calling this time for a million-man march.

They piled up pressure on the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) with an overwhelming show of people power on Friday, Reuters reported.

About a week of continued protests saw the Army killing 41 people in its confrontations with the outraged public.

Large numbers of demonstrators spent Thursday night in the square ahead of the mass rally planned to take place after the Friday Prayers.

Pro-democracy protesters said Friday was the last chance for the ruling junta to hand over power to a civilian power structure and return to the barracks.

In addition, the Egyptian Independent Trade Union Federation called for a workers' march to the square and a labor rights group called for a general strike to back the protests.

Earlier in the day, former Egyptian Prime Minister Kamal Ganzouri accepted a request from the military rulers to form a transitional government.

Ganzouri said that he had agreed to lead a national salvation government after meeting with the head of SCAF Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi.

After the popular revolution that toppled former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak in February, Ganzuri publically distanced himself from his former higher-up -- a move that tipped him as a potential candidate to lead the transitional government.

Caretaker Prime Minister Essam Sharaf and his cabinet resigned on Monday after three consecutive days of protests in Tahrir Square against SCAF's refusal to hand over power to a civilian government.

25 November 2011
Last updated at 01:27 ET

Egypt prepares for mass Friday rally ahead of poll

Friday's planned protest has been dubbed the 'Friday of the last chance'

Protesters in Cairo are preparing to hold another mass rally to demand that Egypt's military rulers step aside.

The demonstrators are demanding the postponement of parliamentary elections due to start on Monday.

The previous military-appointed civilian cabinet resigned earlier this week in the wake of violent protests in Cairo and other cities.

State media has reported that Egypt's army appointed ex-Prime Minister Kamal Ganzouri to form a new government.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (Scaf) is overseeing a transition to civilian rule following the ousting of President Hosni Mubarak in February.

But, despite promises by the council to speed up the process, many Egyptians fear they intend to cling to power.

'Last chance'

The news of the reported appointment of Mr Ganzouri - who headed Egypt's government from 1996 to 1999 under Mr Mubarak - has not been welcomed by many.

"For the second time, we are going to depend upon the old guard of Mubarak's regime. Why we do not give chance for the young, instead of those people who are 80 years old?" one protester in Cairo's Tahrir Square, Suhir Nadim, told Reuters news agency.

"Appointing Ganzouri is a crisis for the revolution. We must remain in Tahrir," another protester, 44-year-old Hossam Amer, told Reuters.

Activists, many of whom spent the night in the square, are calling Friday "the last chance" for Egyptians to demand an immediate transfer to civilian rule.

The Egyptian Independent Trade Union Federation called for a march to Tahrir Square while another labour rights group called for a general strike to back the protests.

The health ministry said 41 people had died in the violence, state television reported early on Friday, according to Reuters.

The military council has offered its condolences, as well as compensation to families of the dead.

"What we want to hear is when they are leaving," protester Khaled Mahmoud told the Associated Press news agency.

AdvertisementThe BBC's Jeremy Bowen says although clashes have subsided, tension remains high around Cairo

Much of the violence has taken place in a street leading from Tahrir Square to the interior ministry. Soldiers have now set up barricades of cement, metal bars and barbed wire to separate protesters and security forces.

A media watchdog group has recommended that news outlets should temporarily stop sending women to Egypt, after two reports of sexual assaults on female journalists.

Reporters Without Borders said a French journalist was the latest victim, attacked on Thursday while she worked in Cairo.

Yet many Egyptians want elections to go ahead unhindered and the main opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, is not supporting the protests.

State newspaper al-Ahram said on its website that Mr Ganzouri, 78, had agreed in principle to lead a "national salvation government" after meeting Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the head of Scaf.

Mr Ganzouri, who distanced himself from Mr Mubarak's regime, has been suggested as a possible presidential candidate.

During his term as prime minister, he was known as the "minister of the poor" because he was seen as representing the less well-off, and he remains popular with Egyptians, the BBC's Yolande Knell says.

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