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Rally keeps up reform pressure on Egypt's leaders

Associated Press Featured Article

February 28, 2011

Rally keeps up reform pressure on Egypt's leaders

By Associated Press ,

CAIRO (AP) — Tens of thousands rallied in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Friday, trying to keep up pressure on Egypt's military rulers to carry out reforms and calling for the dismissal of holdovers from the regime of ousted President Hosni Mubarak.


The downtown square had been the center of an 18–day uprising that brought down Mubarak on Feb. 11. The Egyptian military took over from Mubarak, but assigned government affairs to a caretaker Cabinet until elections can be held.

Demonstrators said Friday they are worried the army is not moving quickly enough on reforms, including repealing emergency laws, releasing political prisoners and removing members of Mubarak's regime from power.

Thousands chanted Friday that they won't leave until they see Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq, one of the Mubarak–era holdovers, removed from office. Some waved flags of Libya to show support for the uprising in the North African country next to Egypt.

"We made Mubarak step down and we must make Shafiq also step down," said Safwat Hegazy, a protester from the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest and best–organized opposition group.

Demonstrators said they would stage large rallies every Friday until their demands are met.

Protester Wael Hassan, 32, said he felt much still needs to be done to ensure change.

"Mubarak is still free and moving around. His sons and his wife and the members of his regime are still moving freely, except for a few scapegoats," he said by phone from the square.

He said he is skeptical about the military's resolve to fulfill all the protesters' demands, adding that the military benefited from the old regime. "It's the people who have to force the army to change. If we leave it to the army, we'll be back to dictatorship again," he said.

Since Mubarak's fall, the military rulers have disbanded both houses of parliament and promised constitutional reforms that will allow wider participation in elections, to be held within six months. They have also promised to repeal emergency laws that give security forces largely unchecked powers, though only when conditions permit — a caveat that worries protesters.

Authorities have also moved against members of Mubarak's regime, arresting a number of former ministers and prominent businessmen on corruption allegations.

Some two dozen ex–ministers and business leaders are under investigation. Protesters have often mentioned corruption as a key motive behind their movement.

Friday's crowd also performed Muslim prayers in the square. In a sermon to the worshippers, Sheik Mohammed Jibril called for the dissolution of Mubarak's National Democratic Party, Egypt's official Middle East News Agency said.

He said God had helped the uprising bring down bad rulers.

Also Friday, a military court sentenced 13 policemen to five years in prison each for taking part in an attack on a security building in Cairo, said security officials speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

The sentence came just two days after hundreds of low–ranking police officers set fire to parts of the security headquarters, pressing demands for better pay.

Related Images:


 An Egyptian army soldier watches thousands of Egyptian gather at Tahrir Square, the focal point of the Egyptian uprising, flashing Egyptian and Tunisan flags in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Feb.25, 2011. The deputy to Osama bin Laden issued al-Qaida's second message since the Egyptian uprising, accusing the nation's Christian leadership of inciting interfaith tensions and denying that the terror network was behind last month's bombing of a Coptic church in Alexandria that killed 21 and sparked protests. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

 Egyptian protesters attend Friday prayers in Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Feb. 25, 2011. Tens of thousands rallied in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Friday, trying to keep up pressure on Egypt's military rulers to carry out reforms and calling for the dismissal of holdovers from the regime of ousted President Hosni Mubarak. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

 Egyptian protesters attend Friday prayers in Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Feb. 25, 2011. Tens of thousands rallied in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Friday, trying to keep up pressure on Egypt's military rulers to carry out reforms and calling for the dismissal of holdovers from the regime of ousted President Hosni Mubarak. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

 Egyptian protesters a wave Libya's old national flag and an Egyptian flag during the Friday demonstration in the Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Feb.25, 2011.The deputy to Osama bin Laden issued al-Qaida's second message since the Egyptian uprising, accusing the nation's Christian leadership of inciting interfaith tensions and denying that the terror network was behind last month's bombing of a Coptic church in Alexandria that killed 21 and sparked protests. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

 Egyptian army officers guard on top of an armored vehicle as demonstrators wave the Egyptian, Tunisian and Libya's old national flags in the Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Feb.25, 2011.The deputy to Osama bin Laden issued al-Qaida's second message since the Egyptian uprising, accusing the nation's Christian leadership of inciting interfaith tensions and denying that the terror network was behind last month's bombing of a Coptic church in Alexandria that killed 21 and sparked protests. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

 An Egyptian raise Libya's old national flag, in dupport to Libyans at Tahrir Square, the focal point of the Egyptian uprising, in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Feb.25, 2011.The deputy to Osama bin Laden issued al-Qaida's second message since the Egyptian uprising, accusing the nation's Christian leadership of inciting interfaith tensions and denying that the terror network was behind last month's bombing of a Coptic church in Alexandria that killed 21 and sparked protests. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

 Egyptians wave by their flags at Tahrir Square, the focal point of the Egyptian uprising, in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Feb. 25, 2011. The deputy to Osama bin Laden issued al-Qaida's second message since the Egyptian uprising, accusing the nation's Christian leadership of inciting interfaith tensions and denying that the terror network was behind last month's bombing of a Coptic church in Alexandria that killed 21 and sparked protests. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

 An Egyptian girl looks on as thousands gather at Tahrir Square, the focal point of the Egyptian uprising, in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Feb.25, 2011. The deputy to Osama bin Laden issued al-Qaida's second message since the Egyptian uprising, accusing the nation's Christian leadership of inciting interfaith tensions and denying that the terror network was behind last month's bombing of a Coptic church in Alexandria that killed 21 and sparked protests. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

 An Egyptian Muslim Sheikh, waves Egyptian flag as thousands gather at Tahrir Square, the focal point of the Egyptian uprising, in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Feb.25, 2011.The deputy to Osama bin Laden issued al-Qaida's second message since the Egyptian uprising, accusing the nation's Christian leadership of inciting interfaith tensions and denying that the terror network was behind last month's bombing of a Coptic church in Alexandria that killed 21 and sparked protests. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

 An Egyptian Muslim Sheikh, at right, and a Coptic bishop waves Egyptian flags, as they mean a sign of solidarity, as thousands gather at Tahrir Square, the focal point of the Egyptian uprising, in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Feb.25, 2011.The deputy to Osama bin Laden issued al-Qaida's second message since the Egyptian uprising, accusing the nation's Christian leadership of inciting interfaith tensions and denying that the terror network was behind last month's bombing of a Coptic church in Alexandria that killed 21 and sparked protests. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)



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