Friday, July 15, 2011

The Revolution is back on Tahrir and does not seem to go away soon

Tahrir on Friday 8 July ....

...and on Tuesday evening 12 July (pictures Lilian Wagdy).

It started last Friday, but it is far from over, the demonstration on Cairo's central square, Midan Tahrir, that was called for by 33 groups and political parties, because of the widely felt dissatisfaction with the performances of the government and the military of the SCAF. Hundreds of thousand came to Tahrir that Friday 8 July. Also the Muslim Brotherhood decided at thge eleevnth hour to take part, but the Brothers left the square just befor the evening fell. Thousands of others, however, stayed overnight for a sit-in, to be joined any more at daybreak and the other day that followd. Tent encampments  have been put up, traffic came to a halt and the square is firmly in the hands of the proteseters who have their own security, complete with body checks and a the necesity to show identity papers. Not in vain, some people in the possesion of weapons or drugs have been arrested, as well as a couple of thieves  At the first Friday there were also protests in Alexandria, Mansoura, Fayoum, and Assiut, and a sit-in in Suez that lik in Cairo is maintained to this day.
On day two common demands were formulated after some haggling between the various groups. According to Al-Ahram online the following seven points:    
 1)The immediate release of all civilians who have been sentenced by military court and their retrial before civilian courts. Military trials for civilians are to be totally banned.
2)A special court should be established to try those implicated in the killing of protesters and all implicated police officers are to be suspended immediately.
3)The sacking of the current minister of the interior and his replacement by a political civilian appointee, to be followed by declaration of a plan and time table for the full restructuring of the Ministry of the Interior, placing it under judicial oversight.
4)The sacking of the current Prosecutor General and the appointment of a well respected figure in his place.
5)Putting Mubarak and the members of his clique on trial for the political crimes they committed against Egypt and its people.
6)Revoking the current budget and the drawing up of a new draft budget that courageously acts to respond to the basic demands of the nation’s poor, and putting that draft budget to public debate before its adoption.
7)Clear and open delineation of the prerogatives of the Supreme Military Council in ways that do not infringe on the powers and prerogatives of the cabinet of ministers. The Prime Ministers should have full powers to appoint his aides and the members of his cabinet, once that cabinet is purged of the remnants of the old regime.
The SCAF racted with a statement read by general Al-Fangarii, one of its members, who reiterated that the SCAF is really committed to freedom of speech and to leading Egypt on the way to democracy, but who also threatened that severe measures would be taken against anyone who disrupted the peace. Prime minister Essam Sharaf held two televised speeches, in which he promised to speed up the cleansing of the police and  said that he would replace some ministers of his cabinet with people who were more to the liking of the protesters. Also he promised that te goverment would take care of the families of the martyrs who died in February or the ones that got wounded, and that he would put pressure to speed up the trials of the those who were guilty of the killings.
None of this was considered to be convincing by the people on Tahrir, who held a. large march on Tuesday evening towards the government buildings. But Wednesday the government was more forthcoming. Minister of the Interior Mansour Eissawi announced that day that 699 police offciers will be fired. Among them are 505 major-generals (10 of them belonging to the top functionaries of the ministry), 82 colonels and 82 brigadiers. Also all in all 4000 policemen will be transferred to other jobs, in what seems to be the largest reoganisation of the police ever. Of the fired policemen some 37 can expect to be indicted for their role in the killings. Eissawi said, however, that snipers who shot at the crowds at the time were not related to the ministry. That must have been the work of some other agency.
Meanwile news was spread that the SCAF now seems to be considering to postpone the parliamentary elections from September to October or November. The paper Al-Masry al-Youm reported that the SCAF also considers to lay down guidelines for the composition of the 100 men strong assemblee which will be charged with writing a new constitution, in order to avoid that islamists might gain too much influence in this body. Also a new electoral law seems to haven been finalized by the government, which has yet to be promulgated by the SCAF. It changes the system that used to be based on idividual canidates, to a system that depends half on electoral lists (party lists) , and half on the old system. Also the make up of the disticts system will be completely redrawn..
As far as the cabinet-reshuffle is concerned, there is no news yet, apart from the fact that Yehia Gamal, the vice-promineminister whose performance had been disappointing,  resigned. Prime minister Sharaf is said to be consulting with various parties about othr changes.

And in the menatime the Second Revolution as some call it, is continued. Tahrir is not satisfied.with the results sofar. The changes within the police are thought to be to shallow, as those who were repsonsble for the killings should be brought to justice. The same goes for Mubarak and friends and family, who still have not been heaqrd in court. The people who have been convicted by military courts are not free yet, and that are not even all the demands that have not yet been met.
On the square the protesters developed a hole new way of life, with electricity from lamp posts, a cinema, children's workshops and even a school. From the video below, made by Al Ahram English, you can get the idea. Today, Friday, Tahrir will be most probably become very crowded again. The protests, it seem, will not easily die away.    

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