News / Africa

Egypt's Cabinet Submits Resignation, Tahrir Square Protests Surge

Protester runs for cover during clashes with Egyptian riot police, Cairo, Nov. 21, 2011.
Protester runs for cover during clashes with Egyptian riot police, Cairo, Nov. 21, 2011.
Elizabeth Arrott

Egyptian state television reports that the country's interim cabinet resigned Monday, following three days of anti-military protests and a fierce security crackdown.  Authorities say at least 22 people have been killed and more than 1,700 others wounded in demonstrations that have spread to cities across the country in what some analysts are calling Egypt's "second revolution."  

The offer by the civilian political leadership to step down has barely affected the mass protests in Cairo's Tahrir Square or other demonstrations across the country.  Throughout the day, as the crowds surged and battles with security forces grew more violent, the focus of anger was on the military.

“No Tantawi," said a protester. "No Tantawi.  No Tantawi.  I will say for Marshal Tantawi everybody in Egypt says, ‘Go!  You should be go!’”

Protesters say the interim government has served only Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, the head of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.

The current crisis was sparked by the deputy prime minister, Ali al Selmi, who proposed that the military's political influence be part of a new constitution.  The idea offended the protesters and the military subsequently abandoned the proposal.  But the violence has escalated.   

“Mr. Tantawi is a soldier," said a protester. "Soldiers have a place - to keep us and to fight our enemy outside Egypt, not to direct their guns to us here inside the country."

The violence was sparked by a crackdown Saturday on a few hundred people who stayed in Tahrir Square after a predominantly Islamist rally the day before.

Long-time dissident and publisher Hisham Kassem says Egypt's security forces know no other way to respond.

“Our police force and even the military elements that support them or help them are not trained to break up a riot properly," said Kassem. "They either withdraw or it’s excessive use of force.  In fact, they have been trained under [former Egyptian President Hosni] Mubarak to use force excessively and unnecessarily.  So it’s become a standoff.”

Many in the crowds took part in the uprising that brought the military to power in February.  Frustration has been mounting for months at delays in what the military initially promised would be a six month transition period, but is now set to last until 2013.

Authorities say the next key step in the political process, parliamentary elections, will begin next week.  Representative government was one of the key demands uniting protesters in the January uprising, which encompassed fundamentalist Muslims, Coptic Christians, secularists and political movements ranging from conservative to liberal.

But the euphoria of earlier this year has been missing in this round of demonstrations.  Publisher Hisham Kassem holds out hope that if the elections go ahead - and he says the military wants them to take place - some of that optimism could return.

“If they stay much longer, they’re going to be facing much more violence, and they’re aware of that," he said. "And none of them are really interested in staying in power.  Like they said, 'We know how to run a military.  We don’t know how to run a country.'  And with the election of a parliament and a president, a new hope, a new grace period will be given to the people.”

But as the crowds grow and protesters call for a "million man" rally across Egypt on Tuesday, anger is rivaling optimism.   

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countriesi
X
December 16, 2014 2:14 PM
Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.
Video

Video Indonesian Province to Expand Sharia Law

Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population and a legal system based on Dutch civil law and Indonesian government regulations. But in a 2001 compromise with separatists, Aceh province in Sumatra island’s north was allowed to implement Sharia law. Since then, religious justice has become increasingly strict. VOA correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh.
Video

Video Some Russian Businesses Thrive in Poor Economy

Capital flight, the fall in oil prices and Western sanctions are pushing Russia's staggering economy into recession. But not companies are suffering. The ruble’s drop in value has benefited exporters as well as businesses targeting increasingly frugal customers. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.

All About America

AppleAndroid