Egyptians challenge military rule

The New York Times reports: Huge crowds of protesters filled Tahrir Square in central Cairo on Tuesday and battled with the police in nearby streets for the fourth straight day, braving an increasingly lethal crackdown to demand an end to military rule.

Each day the crowds have grown; on Tuesday, a day after the civilian cabinet offered its resignation to Egypt’s transitional military government, the protesters massed at the epicenter of Egyptian resistance — first to the former president, Hosni Mubarak, ousted in February and now to the military commanders who replaced him — appeared to number well over 100,000.

Such was the nervousness about the test of wills that trading was briefly suspended on the Cairo stock exchange after its main index slumped for a third successive day, deepening the sense of crisis that has built since street fighting began on Saturday. The first parliamentary elections since Mr. Mubarak was forced from power are scheduled to begin next week, and there is widespread concern that they will be postponed.

Intense skirmishes continued for a fourth day on the main avenue leading to the Interior Ministry. For the protesters, the outburst still seemed to represent a leaderless expression of rage.

Issandr El Amrani writes: The situation in Alexandria appears to have really escalated. This is no longer just about Tahrir. The loss of Egyptian Current Party (offshoot of Muslim Brotherhood) member Bahei Eddin al-Senoussi, a major activist in Alexandria, has galvanized people there. Follow Rawya Ragei’s reporting for al-Jazeera English on this.

The resignation of Essam Sharaf’s cabinet does not seem to have moved the protest movement. The SCAF is said to be negotiating its replacement with political forces, but here they must be treading carefully: if they join in a national unity cabinet, can they be assured that the protestors in Tahrir will accept? They now risk discrediting themselves in doing so. They have to be sure they can sell it to the public, and that means a hard sell. Meanwhile, the best presidential candidates (ElBaradei and Aboul Fotouh) are scathing about SCAF but offer different ways to get to a national unity government. And the most populist one, Hazem Saleh Abu Ismail, has called for more protestors to come down onto the streets. But he still wants elections, and his criticism of SCAF is partly put as a threat.

The Washington Post reports: Three Americans studying at the American University in Cairo have been arrested and accused of participating in the violent demonstrations that are posing the greatest threat to Egypt’s military leaders since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak last February.

As angry crowds gathered in the capital’s Tahrir Square for a fourth consecutive day, Egypt’s military leaders held a meeting with political leaders in hopes of diffusing the deepening political crisis.

But major figures refused to attend, including Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel Peace Prize winner who has emerged as a possibility to head a national unity government, and Shady Ghazali Harb, a leading member of the Revolutionary Youth Coalition, and a close ally of ElBaradei’s.

“I refused to go because of the violence still going on in Tahrir Square,” Harb said. “We can not negotiate with anyone still doing such violence. The legitimacy comes from the square, not the military council.”

Al-Masry Al-Youm reports: Egyptian diplomats on Tuesday signed a statement urging the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) to pledge to conduct presidential elections and hand over power to civilians by mid-2012 at the latest.

The statement, which was signed by 245 diplomats, called on the governing military council to “stop systematic assaults by security on protesters.”

Among those who signed the statement were ambassadors and advisers at the Foreign Ministry, including Ambassor to Russia Alaa al-Hadidy and ministry spokesperson Amr Roshdy.

Al-Masry Al-Youm obtained a copy of the statement, which emphasizes the SCAF’s responsibility to preserve security and safeguard the right of peaceful protest, as is outlined in international charters and agreements.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email