Friday 20 October 2017

Second Egyptian revolution defies gun-happy army

Calls mount to transfer ruling power to civilians

HADEEL AL-SHALCHI in Cairo

Egyptian security forces clashed with protesters camped outside the cabinet building yesterday, leaving one man dead, as tensions rose two days ahead of parliamentary elections being held despite mass demonstrations against military rule.

The violence occurred as a wave of protests against military rule was given extra impetus by the Egyptian military's decision last Friday to appoint a prime minister, Kamal el-Ganzouri, who served under deposed president Hosni Mubarak.

The Obama administration has increased pressure on Egypt's military rulers, who took over from Mubarak, to transfer power to civilian leaders, throwing its support behind protesters massed on Cairo's central Tahrir Square for more than a week.

More than 100,000 demonstrators packed into the square last Friday in the biggest rally since the current unrest began.

Twenty-four protest groups, including two political parties, have announced they are creating their own "national salvation" government to be headed by Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed El Baradei, with deputies from across the political spectrum.

Egyptian state TV said that the head of the ruling military council, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, met separately with Mr El Baradei and another presidential hopeful, Amr Moussa, who was the former Arab League chief, but it gave no details.

Hundreds also set up camp to prevent the 78-year-old politician from entering to take up his new post. They clashed with security forces who allegedly tried to disperse them. A cameraman saw three police troop carriers and an armoured vehicle firing tear gas. The man who was killed was run over by one of the vehicles.

The Interior Ministry expressed regret for the death of the protester, identified as Ahmed Serour, and said it was an accident.

Police said they didn't intend to storm the sit-in but were merely heading to the Interior Ministry headquarters when they came under attack.

One of the protesters, Mohammed Zaghloul, 21, said he saw six security vehicles.

"It became very tense, rock throwing started and the police cars were driving like crazy," he said.

"Police threw one tear gas canister and all of a sudden we saw our people carrying the body of a man."

Officials said more than 40 people have been killed since November 19.

Sunday Independent

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