Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Egypt's revolution enters second stage

The Egyptian revolution has really reached a second stage today with at least a million people present at Tahrir Square, while also in many other places in Egypt mass demonstrations were taking place. In Alexandria, thousands of protesters reached the Northern District military command. In Cairo battles continued between protesters and CSF troops in Mohamed Mahmoud Street off Tahrir Square. All day victims have been ferried from the front to the field hospitals in and around the square, adding to the growing number of casualties from these four days.
Protesters in Suez flock to Arbaeen Square as the pressure mounts on the military council to recognise this week for what it is: a mass uprising against its rule. According to the April 6 Youth Movement, mass protests are also being held in the cities of Qena,Beni-Soueif, Al-Sharqiya, and Al-Wadi Al-Gadid.
Tahrir Square this afternoon. (Photo AP)

Meanwhile political figures and representatives had a meeting with General Sami Anan, Army chief of Staff and member of the SCAF in the afternoon. The chairman of Al-Wasat Party, Abu El-Ela Mady, told Al Hayat TV channel after the meeting that the following was agreed: 
- Holding presidential elections on 30 June 2012 while parliamentary elections will stay on schedule.
- Allowing freedom of protest and sit-ins.
- An immediate release of the detainees arrested since last Saturday.
- Forming a new 'national salvation' unity government.
- The SCAF has no problem in having a referendum on whether the Army should return to their baracks or not.
The meeting with general Anan took place after activists from several political currents in Tahrir Square in the morning had proposed a national salvation government consisting of presidential candidates Mohamed ElBaradei, Hamdeen Sabbahi, Abdel Moneim Abou El-Fotouh and Hazem Salah Abou-Ismail, in order to represent different political factions and make unified political decisions.
The proposal also includes selecting a judge to serve in the government from Zakaria Abdul Aziz, Mahmoud El-Khodeiry and Ahmed Mekki, who are well respected and known for their integrity.
The April 6 Movement, one of Egypt's most popular movements with political clout, has made similar proposals, calling for a presidential council composed of Mohamed ElBaradei, Abdel Moneim Abou El-Fotouh, Hazem Salah Abou-Ismail,  and judge Zakaria Abdul Aziz. The movement also left a seat open for a military representative selected by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. The government of Essam Sharaf tendred its rsignation on Monaday evening.

 It was expected that Field Marshall Mohammed Hussein Tantawi would confirm the agreement that had been reached with general Anan, in een tv-speech at the beginning of the evening. However the marshall gave a less than convincing performance. Tantawi confirmed that the SCAF had accepted the resignation of the Sharaf-government, but he said no more than that a new government will be formed. Also he confirmed that elections will be held on scheme , 28 November for the parliament, and the presidential elections no later than June 1012. The SCAF, he said moreover,  was willing to hold a referendum whether the army should return to its baracks.
But for the rest his speech was one lengthy apology for the role of the army - which, as he said, always consulted with the people, which had no wish to stay in power, which wanted to protects the will of the Egyptian people, which had not shot one bullet at an Egyptian citizen, which stopped to refer accused to military trials after it had been asked to do so, and so on. He also said that the army had been patient in dealing with multiple attempts to smear its reputation and patriotism over the last few months, that still some people continued to doubt the honest intentions of the SCAF, and that many continued to instigate divisions between the army and the people.
Tantawi's speech was greeted on Tahrir with loud shouts of 'The people want the removal of the marshall' and 'Down, down with military rule'.   

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