'Mega Protest' Planned in Egypt

Published on
by
Al Jazeera English

'Mega Protest' Planned in Egypt

Opposition movement calls for one "million people demonstration" on Tuesday in a bid to topple president Hosni Mubarak.

by

Crowds are gathering on central Cairo's Tahrir square for a sixth day of anti-government protests (Getty)

Egyptian protesters have called for a massive demonstration on
Tuesday in a bid to force out president Hosni Mubarak from power.

The
so-called April 6 Movement said it plans to have more than a million
people on the streets of the capital Cairo, as anti-government sentiment
reaches a fever pitch.

Several hundred demonstrators remained camped out in Tahrir Square in
central Cairo overnight, defying a curfew that has been extended by the
army.

Thousands were back on the square by mid-day on Monday, chanting
anti-government slogans. This as heavy military presence was seen in
many parts of the capital.

One of Al Jazeera's correspondents said the military's attempts to
block access to the square on Monday by closing roads was not working as
more people were arriving in a steady stream.

"Protesters say they'll stay in this square for as long as Mubarak stays in power," she said.

Protesters seem unfazed by Mubarak's pledge to institute economic and
political reforms. Our correspondent said people feel that such pledges
"are too little, too late".

New cabinet

The newly appointed prime minister of Egypt, Ahmed Shafiq, has formed
his cabinet, in which Mahmoud Wagdy has been appointed to lead the
crucial interior ministry, responsible for the police.

Wagdy was previously head of Cairo criminal investigations department and also a former head of prisons.

Protesters had demanded Habib al-Adli, the former interior minister,
be sacked after police beat, tear gassed and fired rubber bullets on
demonstrators.

Al Jazeera reporters in Cairo also said police had been seen
returning to the streets, directing traffic, after being absent since
Friday.

"We are waiting for the minister of interior to announce in what form
they are going to come back onto the streets and why they disappeared
after Friday prayers, on the 'second day of rage'," one correspondent
said. 

"The absence of police has given looters a free rein, forcing
ordinary citizens to set up neighbourhood patrols. Many people are
wondering where the police disappeared to.

"There are two schools of thought as far as the police are concerned:
One is that many of them decided to join the protesters. The other is
that the regime was saying to the people, 'You want to protest. We'll
pull back the police and you feel what anarchy feels like'," our
correspondent said.

After deadly clashes in which more than a hundred people were killed
in Cairo and other cities, protesters complained that police were using
excessive force.

But an Al Jazeera correspondent said some locals greeted police as "long-lost friends" on Monday.

"It's almost as if the population of Cairo is suffering from
selective amnesia ... We saw one small boy carrying a tray a of tea to a
group of policemen. Another man got out of his car, kissed and hugged
the policemen."

Meanwhile, many people are stocking up on bottled water and food, one of Al Jazeera's correspondents in Cairo said.

"I walked into a supermarket and saw complete mayhem. People are
stocking up on supplies as much as they can. There are very few rations
available in the stores. They are running out of basic supplies, like
eggs, cheese and meat. Deliveries have not been coming for days."

'Cannot go back'

A day earlier, Mohamed ElBaradei, a leading opposition figure, joined thousands of protesters in Tahrir Square.

The
former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency told the crowd on
Sunday night that "what we have begun cannot go back" referring to days
of anti-government protests.

The National Coalition for Change, which groups several opposition
movements including the Muslim Brotherhood, wants ElBaradei to negotiate
with the Mubarak government.

"The people want the regime to fall," protesters chanted as ElBaradei
walked to the centre of the square, holding hands with some
demonstrators.

The show of continued defiance by the people came on a day when air
force fighter planes flew low over Cairo along with helicopters and
extra troop lorries appeared in the central square.

As the protests continue, security is said to be deteriorating and
reports have emerged of several prisons across the country being
attacked and of fresh protests being staged in cities like Alexandria
and Suez.

Thirty-four leaders from the Muslim Brotherhood were freed from the Wadi Natroun jail after guards abandoned their posts.

The protesters in Cairo, joined by hundreds of judges, had gathered
earlier in Tahrir Square in the afternoon to demand the resignation of
Mubarak.

Al Jazeera's correspondent, reporting from the scene, said that
demonstrators confronted a fire truck, at which point army troops fired
into the air in a bid to disperse them.

He said the protesters did not move back, and a tank commander then
ordered the fire truck to leave. When the truck moved away from the
square, the thousands of protesters erupted into applause and climbed
onto the tank in celebration, hugging soldiers.

Main roads in Cairo have been blocked by military tanks and armoured
personnel carriers, and large numbers of army personnel have been seen
in other cities as well.

Our correspondent said that extra military roadblocks had been set up
in an apparent attempt to divert traffic away from Tahrir Square, which
has become a focal point for demonstrators.

"It's still a very tense scene to have so much military in the capital city of the country."

 

Share This Article

More in: