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February 13, 2011

Public Holiday Gives Egypt’s Rulers More Time to Implement Reforms

by Lauren Frayer

Egyptians have another day off work Monday, amid word of a new timeline for implementing political reforms in the wake of President Hosni Mubarak's resignation.

Egypt’s military rulers called a public holiday Monday, amid strikes by bank tellers, state media employees and transport workers, all demanding better pay and benefits after President Hosni Mubarak’s ouster.

The military urged Egyptians back to work, but is giving them a few days to do so. Tuesday is also a public holiday, for the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday. Egypt’s stock exchange is still closed, as well.

Former protester Gihan Mohamed says people are worried about the economy.

"This is a step forward, but we still have a lot of work ahead of us,” Gihan said. “The losses that the country has faced economically and the damages it went through, it’s going to take a while for us to come back from it. But hopefully we will."

The military has dissolved parliament and suspended the constitution and says it will rule only six months, until elections are held. Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq says most current ministers would stay until then.

Mr. Shafiq says Egypt's normal way of life must be restored, along with a feeling of security that was lost in recent weeks. He says insecurity is ending, although not at the pace it should.

Activist and Google executive Wael Ghonim has posted notes on Facebook from a meeting between military chiefs and youth representatives. He said an independent committee is preparing amendments to the constitution over the next 10 days. The public will be able to vote on them in two months. That is the first word of any timeline for reforms, but there has been no confirmation from the government.

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