Monday, February 14, 2011

Egypt: almost two thousand demonstrators back Tahrir Square

Nearly two thousand people gathered on Monday 14 February, on Tahrir Square, Cairo, disrupting traffic around the roundabout, just hours after the evacuation of the area by military police and army, report witnesses. The army appeared to have taken control of the square, symbol of the revolution that ended the regime of Hosni Mubarak, in place for nearly thirty years. Hundreds of policemen then walked towards the roundabout to show their support for the protest movement. After two weeks of occupancy, the protesters had left the morning of Monday Tahrir Square. Earlier, the Egyptian army, responsible for the transition, had issued an ultimatum to the dozens of demonstrators who were still in place, threatening to arrest them if they stayed.
On Sunday, thousands of people had returned to the square to require the Army to keep its promises. The army had gained one of their key demands by announcing the suspension of the Constitution and the dissolution of Parliament, dominated by members of the National Democratic Party (NDP).
The Supreme Council of the armed forces, in power since the fall of former President Hosni Mubarak said in a statement that the transitional period during which they will "support the business management of the country temporarily" last six months "or until 'at the end of the legislative elections and the presidency of the Republic. "
The army said that the Constitution was suspended in order to be amended. The military announced the creation of a commission in this regard. The amendments will then be submitted to a referendum. The military, which had pledged to hand over power to civilians after a transparent and democratic process, provide for the first time a detailed timetable for transition by taking two of the main claims of opponents. The elections resulted in the formation of this Parliament in 2010 were marred by massive fraud suspicions. As for the Constitution, it restricted the conditions of candidacy for the presidency and does not limit presidential terms.
The military also reaffirmed that "all treaties and international covenants" shall be respected and committed to "hold elections for the upper and lower houses (Parliament) and for the presidency," without specifying dates. The head of the Supreme Council of armed forces, Field Marshal Mohammed Tantawi, will represent the country "with all parties inside and outside" the statement said.
In the aftermath, Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik said he thought that Hosni Mubarak was still in the seaside resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, where he has a residence, denying rumors of a leak of former president abroad. Mr. Chafic said that the role of Omar Suleiman, Vice-Chairman appointed by Mubarak in the first days of protest, will be defined by the army. The role of the former head of military intelligence is more than blurred since the resignation of former rais.
A government spokesman also announced that the new Egyptian leaders had not requested the freezing of assets of Mr Mubarak abroad. But, he added, "if necessary, they will." Switzerland has decided to freeze with immediate effect "that could hold the assets in the confederation Mubarak and his entourage. For its part, the EU expects a request to that effect from Cairo to act. "We are in contact with the Egyptian authorities. When this subject will be discussed, we will respond," said the spokesman for the chief of European diplomacy Ashton, Maja Kocijancik. Finally, the French Minister of Economy Christine Lagarde, has ensured that Paris was "obviously available to the Egyptian judiciary" to review the status of the assets which hold the former Egyptian president in France.

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