Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Towards anarchy? Egypt's Military Council to give up its ruling power

(ynet).Is Egypt sliding towards anarchy? Egypt's ruling Military Council is set to announce that it will relinquish power in favor of Cairo's Supreme Court.

Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, who heads the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces that has ruled Egypt since a popular uprising forced President Hosni Mubarak to resign on February 11, will reportedly make an official announcement to that effect later on Tuesday.

The announcement comes as tens of thousands of Egyptians gathered at Tahrir Square for a mass demonstration Tuesday while fresh clashes broke out elsewhere in Cairo as protests demanding the country's military rulers step down entered a fourth day.

Egyptian media reported that Farouk Sultan, chairman of the Supreme Constitutional Court of Egypt, had cut short his visit to Turkey and is making his way back to Cairo.

Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharif said: "The Ministry responded to the people's demands, and submitted its resignation.

"Today, I ask everyone to take this country into account; to leave, calm the situation down because we are willing to do anything for the sake of this country, and you must be willing to as well because who will benefit from these events? All I ask of people is that they leave, calm down, we have already responded to what they wanted and it will be implemented, God willing.

"We were so close to our main goal which is the elections; this is what is important, this political shift. So again I ask that people protect Egypt in this stage," he said.

Security forces stayed away from Tahrir Square since Monday to avoid confrontations after several failed efforts to clear the area in downtown Cairo turned violent; but clashes broke out in streets connecting Tahrir Square to police headquarters, with black-clad security forces backed by military troops firing volleys of tear gas and rubber bullets to block groups of angry young men, who responded by hurling stones and fire bombs.

Hundreds of protesters arrived early Tuesday to join several thousand who have been camping in the square. The crowds hoisted a giant Egyptian flag and chanted slogans demanding the generals immediately step down in favor of a presidential civilian council.

In many ways, the protests bear a striking resemblance to the 18-day uprising beginning Jan. 25 that toppled Mubarak. The chants are identical, except that military ruler Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi's name has replaced Mubarak's.

"The goal is to get rid of the government. They're still stealing and people can't eat," said protester Raed Said, 23, as he walked with an arm around his friend who was choking from the tear gas. "The field marshal has to leave because he's trying to protect Mubarak and doesn't want to try him, so he has to go."

Amnesty International harshly criticized the military rulers in a new report, saying they have "completely failed to live up their promises to Egyptians to improve human rights."

The London-based group documented steps by the military that have fallen short of increasing human rights and in some cases have made matters worse than under Mubarak.

"The euphoria of the uprising has been replaced by fears that one repressive rule has simply been replaced with another," according to the report, issued early Tuesday.