Afrasian.com: “Egyptians rally against defiant military rulers”
Thousands of people rallied outside Egypt’s defence ministry Friday calling for the military rulers’ ouster a day before a civil disobedience campaign marking Hosni Mubarak’s overthrow a year ago.
The military responded by saying it would not bow to threats or plots against the state, official television reported.
During the day, several groups of protesters converged near the ministry as the security forces blocked off access with barbed wire and tanks.
Military music blared from behind the barrier, while the activists chanted slogans such as: “The people want the execution of the Field Marshal” — Hussein Tantawi, head of the ruling military council since Mubarak’s ouster.
The activists set off from several points across Cairo and snaked through residential areas to bypass military cordons several kilometres (miles) from the military headquarters.
The protesters plan a day of strikes and sit-ins to mark the anniversary on Saturday.
“We will never yield to threats, and we will never give in to pressure,” the much-criticised Supreme Council of the Armed Forces said in a statement broadcast by state television.
The SCAF also said Egypt was the target of conspiracies aiming to sow instability.
“We tell you quite frankly that our dear Egypt faces plans aimed at striking at the heart of our revolution,” the statement said.
“We are facing plots against the nation aiming to undermine the institutions of the Egyptian state, and to topple the state itself so that chaos reigns.”
After Friday’s main weekly Muslim prayers, protesters at the Fateh mosque in central Cairo began chanting “Down with military rule!” before setting off on their march.
“We are marching to the defence ministry, we want to remove the military,” said prominent activist Asmaa Mahfuz, who taped an influential video more than a year ago calling on Egyptians to rise up against Mubarak.
Young activists such as Mahfuz, whom the military had threatened to put on trial after she attacked the ruling generals in Internet postings, have turned their sights on the army a year after toppling Mubarak in an 18-day uprising.
The military, which promises to hand over power after a president is elected later this year, said it would deploy troops across the country, state media reported.
The threatened civil disobedience campaign has divided the country’s political forces, with the Muslim Brotherhood — the big winner in recent parliamentary elections — coming out against it.
Students in several universities have called for strikes on Saturday, with secular youth groups who spearheaded the revolt against Mubarak joining in.
Tareq al-Khouly, an organiser of the April 6 youth group, said the plan was for a one-day strike, which could be extended.
In a joint statement on Friday, the groups called on Egyptians “to support these strikes in order to end the unjust rule and build a nation in which justice, freedom and dignity prevail.”
Although the military was initially idolised for not siding with Mubarak during the uprising, it has since faced growing protests against its continued rule and has several times used deadly force to disperse demonstrations.
Reuters: “Egyptians protest against a year of army rule”
CAIRO, Feb 10 (Reuters) – Thousands of Egyptians marched to the Defence Ministry on Friday to press demands for the generals to hand over power, a day before a strike called by activists to mark the first anniversary of President Hosni Mubarak’s fall.
Egypt remains in political turmoil a year after a military council took over from Mubarak, when popular demonstrations forced him to end his 30-year rule.
The Muslim Brotherhood, while not involved in the protests has called for a coalition government to replace the military-appointed one criticised for its handling of soccer violence in Port Said in which at least 74 people were killed.
“The people want the overthrow of the Marshal,” activists chanted during the march in Cairo, referring to Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, who heads the army council.
“We are here to tell Tantawi and the military council to hand over power. This is a peaceful march and it will stay so,” activist Sara Kamel said. “Since the generals have come to power, they haven’t done anything for Egypt and they want to continue Mubarak’s legacy.”
Army units blocked access to the defence ministry, where the walls on one side of the complex had been repainted to hide graffiti plastered on by activists.
“Congratulations on the new paint. Down with military rule,” read one line sprayed across the wall.
Egypt’s religious authorities called on unions and youth groups to scrap plans for a wave of strikes aimed at forcing the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) from power, saying the people must show duty to the nation and spare its economy.
Young activists ignored the calls, chanting “civil disobedience is legitimate, civil disobedience against poverty and hunger”, as some people cheered protesters from their balconies, while others criticised them for snarling traffic.
The army has deployed extra soldiers and tanks to protect state buildings and public property in the build-up to the strike, which has highlighted deep divisions between liberal and leftist youth groups on one side and the army, Islamist politicians and religious leaders on the other.
Hundreds also marched in the coastal city of Alexandria.
PRESSURE ON GOVERNMENT
Until a new president is elected, the Brotherhood had talked of using its large parliamentary presence to press the army-backed interim cabinet led by Prime Minister Kamal al-Ganzouri to govern in what it sees as Egypt’s long-term interests.
But after 15 people were killed in days of clashes between police and protesters angered by the Port Said deaths, the Islamist group has hardened its tone.
“The government has failed in managing the country. In any nation in the world, such a disaster would force a cabinet to give up power,” Mahmoud Ghozlan, a Brotherhood spokesman, said.
The Brotherhood took the biggest share of seats in parliament in a phased election completed last month.
“We cannot go on like this forever. Egypt needs a firm government that enacts the rule of law and that is serious about the transition,” Ghozlan said, adding that the call for a coalition government could prompt the generals to dismiss Ganzouri’s cabinet.
“This proposal, will no doubt reach the ears of the military council,” he said.
A military source denied to the state news agency any intention to sack Ganzouri’s cabinet, saying it would stay in power until the military hands over to an elected president.
Hussein Ibrahim, an official of the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, told Reuters the party was ready to form a coalition government but had not started any negotiations yet.
The Brotherhood is also under pressure from youth activists who are convinced the movement is doing the army’s bidding.
“The Brotherhood and SCAF have struck a deal and since they have come to power, they have betrayed the revolution,” said Mohamed Ahmed, a 14-year-old student. (Additional reporting by Saad el-Hoseiny and Marwa Awad; Editing by Alistair Lyon)