Political situation in Egypt unclear after fresh round of heavy fighting leaves 10 dead and 1700 wounded

Posted on | november 21, 2011 | No Comments

Makeshift tents are burning after the police on Sunday evacuated the protesters. (Photo EPA)

Fresh waves of protests started throughout Egypt after clashes between police and protesters refusing to leave Tahrir Square on Saturday left two dead and 676 injured as police violence escalated a few days before parliamentary elections. The police’s decision to evacuate Tahrir Square early Saturday morning backfired, as their heavy-handed tactics against the small overnight protesters enraged activists and prompted tens of thousands to flock to the epicentre of January’s revolution to insist on their right to protest. Waves of the notorious Central Security Forces (CSF) were being rushed to the scene in ever greater numbers in attempts to disperse demonstrators.

The clashes were the beginning of news protests and heavy fighting in Cairo and in other places in Egypt that according to firgures released by the Egyptian ministry of Health late Sunday evening left 10 people dead and more than 1700 wounded.

Following the clashes in Tahrir Square on Saturday, 18 political forces announced an open-ended sit-in early Sunday and have urged all national forces and movements to stage sit-ins across the country. In a statement, the forces said they have decided to stage the sit-in because they believe remnants of the old regime are still running the country, and given the lack of a clear timetable for a transition of power to an elected civilian government.

The forces said that the political movements and forces of the revolution are the only source of authority in the country and have decided to revive the January 25 Revolution. They added that they will continue their sit-in until Essam Sharaf’s government is immediately dissolved, a national salvation government, which will oversee the transitional period along with parliamentary and presidential elections, is formed, and the ruling military junta is stripped of its political cout.

The groups are also demanding that parliamentary elections are held on their scheduled date, that presidential elections are held on 1 April 2012, and that the Interior Ministry be reformed.

Among the 18 forces that released the statement are the Revolution Youth Coalition, the 6 April Movement (Democratic Front), the Revolution’s Protectors Council, the Revolution Youth Alliance, the Free Movement for Peaceful Change, and the Egyptian Current.

The security forces on Sunday afternoon again tried to evacuate the protesters from Tahrir. But the protesters came back in the early hours of the evening and succeeded to expell the military police and soldiers – dressed in riot gear and wielding bludgeons and electroshock weapons – who stood before rows of Central Security Forces (CSF) firing barrage after barrage of tear gas, runbber bullets and also birdshot The streets of downtown Cairo looked like battle zones, filled with toxic gas, fleeing protesters and fires burning. Heavy fighting continued in side streets off the central plaza, particularly around the area of the interior ministry where a large contingent of riot troops has been stationed to ward off protesters. Elswhere in Egypt, in Alexandria, Port Said, Tanta, Mansoura and Sohag also fights took place. In Suez, a large urban centre on the Suez canal, protesters clashed with armed police who fired teargas in an attempt to disperse crowds.

Presidential candidate Amr Moussa said in an tv-interview: “We are in a very dangerous situation. We have to end the use of force, which was not justified. We should engage in dialogue.” Moussa said that dealing with peaceful sit-ins and demonstrations in such a violent way would only worsen the situation.”

Fellow presidential candidate Mohamed ElBaradei echoed Moussa’s sentiment, describing the excessive force used by the police as “barbaric.”“It’s yet another indication that Scaf and the current government are failing to govern and I fully sympathise with the increasing calls coming from different quarters, including Tahrir, for a new government of national salvation that represents all shades of Egyptian society, one with full power.

AUTHOR: Martin Hijmans
URL: http://the-pessoptimist.blogspot.com/
E-MAIL: m.hijmans [at] planet.nl


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