Following overnight clash between protesters and the Egyptian army outside the cabinet office near Tahrir Square, Cairo, Jack Shenker reports:
The international press is reporting that the army has issued an apology for its brutality, which included demonstrators being beaten and tasered, but that’s not quite true. In fact it has posted a series of statements on its new Facebook page, one of which is entitled ‘apology’ but which actually says only that the overnight fracas was ‘unintentional’ – prompting scorn and anger from many activists on the ground.
The army is a highly-respected national institution in Egypt, but suspicions are now mounting about its willingness to tolerate – and even prop up – lasting remnants of the Mubarak regime, and its intolerance of any public dissent. Combined with fierce fighting last night in the Nile Delta town of Mansoura, where protesters did battle with central security forces (who hadn’t been deployed in large numbers since Mubarak’s downfall), the incidents outside parliament are amplifying the voices of those who believe the army cannot be trusted, either to build a meaningful and durable set of civilian-led democratic political institutions, or to see through the kind of root and branch economic reform which is needed to answer the legitimate aspirations of millions of poor Egyptians. (For more details on how Egypt’s poor have done so badly from the country’s neoliberal reform programme in recent years see this analysis piece by Walter Armbrust.)
Meanwhile, from Tunis, the BBC reports:
Security forces in the Tunisian capital have fired tear gas to try to disperse hundreds of demonstrators outside the interior ministry.
Police and masked men in civilian clothes, armed with sticks, moved through streets looking for protesters.
The renewed protest comes a day after police cleared huge crowds from the streets demanding the resignation of the interim prime minister.
That was the biggest rally since the president fled after weeks of unrest.
On Friday police fired tear gas and warning shots to disperse demonstrators.
The BBC’s Paul Moss in Tunis says the stench of tear gas is again filling the main shopping street in Tunis.
The trouble flared very suddenly – people out shopping found themselves caught up in the confrontation, women carrying heavy bags running for cover with handkerchiefs clutched to their mouths, our correspondent says.