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Egypt's Army Prodding a Return to Normalcy After Weeks of Protests

  • Lauren Frayer

Egyptian Army soldiers remove tents of protesters from Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, Feb. 13, 2011. Egypt's military has started taking down the makeshift tents of protesters who camped out on Tahrir Square in an effort to allow traffic and norma

Egyptian Army soldiers remove tents of protesters from Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, Feb. 13, 2011. Egypt's military has started taking down the makeshift tents of protesters who camped out on Tahrir Square in an effort to allow traffic and norma

Egypt’s army is prodding pro-democracy demonstrators to put down their placards and get back to work Sunday, on the first full day of business since President Hosni Mubarak’s ouster.

Soldiers are dismantling protesters’ tents, and Cairo’s infamous traffic jams have returned to Tahrir Square. Despite a few scuffles with soldiers, pro-democracy demonstrators have largely put down their placards and are heading back to school and work.

But they are still airing their demands that Egypt’s new military rulers lift emergency laws, in place 30 years, that grant security forces broad powers to detain people without charge. They also want parliament dissolved and a new unity government in its place, and they want the constitution amended or rewritten entirely.

Former protester Khalid Shahwan says he understands that could take a while.

"It’s going to take time for them to change the constitution, for them to make good elections, proper elections," Khalid said.

His friend Gihan Mohamed says the very culture of Egypt’s ruling elite has to change.

"I hope things are going to change because there is a lot of corruption in the country, like lots of corruption, and I hope it will change," Gihan said.

The Egyptian Cabinet is meeting Sunday, and the prime minister is expected to outline which ministers will stay on and which may go. The military is asking the Cabinet to keep working in a caretaker capacity, until elections can be held in September.

But Information Minister Anas El-Fiqqi told state television he has already resigned. And others could follow. The public prosecutor has opened an investigation into top ruling party figures, freezing some politicians’ assets and imposing a travel ban on others.

The military’s Supreme Council, which took power after President Hosni Mubarak resigned, promised Saturday to eventually hand power to an elected government. It vowed too to abide by international treaties, an indication that peace with Israel will remain.

The military council also called on Egyptians themselves to push the economy forward, urging them back to their jobs. Sunday is the first regular business day since President Hosni Mubarak’s ouster.

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