News / Middle East

Egypt Braces for 'Million-Man March' as Army Pledges Restraint

Women demonstrate in Tahrir Square, in central Cairo, January 31, 2011
Women demonstrate in Tahrir Square, in central Cairo, January 31, 2011



Egypt's military says it recognizes the "legitimate demands" of the Egyptian people, and has pledged not to fire on protesters who are expected to fill central Cairo Tuesday for a "million-man march" on President Hosni Mubarak's palace.

A general strike also is called for Tuesday, and a second massive protest is planned in the northern port city of Alexandria.

National train services were cancelled Monday, in what some consider an attempt by authorities to prevent rural residents from joining the urban protests. An unprecedented Internet cutoff remained in place for a fifth day Tuesday.

The military statement comes as tens of thousands of Egyptians continue to protest in Cairo's Tahrir Square, defying the fifth night of a government-imposed curfew.

Slideshow of recent images from Egypt

Key Players in Egypt's Crisis

  • President Hosni Mubarak: The 82-year-old has ruled Egypt for 30 years as leader of the National Democratic Party. Egypt's longest-serving president came to power after the assassination of his predecessor, Anwar Sadat.
  • Mohamed ElBaradei: The Nobel Peace laureate and former Egyptian diplomat has gained international attention as a vocal critic of Mr. Mubarak and his government. Until recently he headed the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency, and he has lived outside Egypt for years. ElBaradei founded the nonpartisan movement National Association for Change, and has offered to lead a transitional administration in Egypt if Mr. Mubarak steps down.
  • Vice President Omar Suleiman: The new Egyptian vice president has served as head of intelligence and is a close ally of President Mubarak. He earned international respect for his role as a mediator in Middle East affairs and for curbing Islamic extremism.
  • Ayman Nour: The political dissident founded the Al Ghad or "tomorrow" party. Nour ran against Mr. Mubarak in the 2005 election and was later jailed on corruption charges. The government released him in 2009 under pressure from the United States and other members of the international community.
  • Muslim Brotherhood: The Islamic fundamentalist organization is outlawed in Egypt, but remains the largest opposition group. Its members previously held 20 percent of the seats in parliament, but lost them after a disputed election in late 2010. The group leads a peaceful political and social movement aimed at forming an Islamic state.

Egypt's newly appointed vice president said Mr. Mubarak has asked him to begin immediate discussions with all "political forces" on constitutional and legislative reforms. Omar Suleiman, a longtime confidant of Mr. Mubarak, did not say what the changes will entail or which groups the government will contact.

The Wall Street Journal newspaper reported that opposition parties say they will not negotiate as long as Mr. Mubarak remains in office.

A crisis committee from Egypt's newly formed opposition coalition met Monday to discuss their strategy in anticipation of Mr. Mubarak's ouster.

The gathering issued a call for Tuesday's escalated protests but did not reach a final agreement on a list of demands.

On Sunday, Egypt's powerful Muslim Brotherhood and the secular opposition said they had chosen prominent democracy advocate Mohamed ElBaradei to represent their side in possible negotiations with the army over Mr. Mubarak's departure.

The military's announcement, delivered on state television without elaboration, did not specify whether it considers legitimate the demands for Mr. Mubarak's removal or merely calls for reform.

Egypt's president named a new interior minister and finance minister Monday, in an apparent attempt to quell angry protesters. The foreign minister and long-serving defense minister kept their posts in the Cabinet reshuffle.

Retired General Mahmoud Wagdy will replace the widely reviled Habib Adly as the interior minister, overseeing the police and plainclothed domestic security forces. Many Egyptians have been calling for his firing after deadly clashes last week between police and demonstrators.

Police were back on the streets Monday, but security sources say they have orders to stick to regular work without confronting demonstrators.

More than 125 people have died during protest violence in the past week.

Looting that erupted over the past two days eased in Cairo. Egypt's army is continuing its increased presence, with tanks guarding banks and government buildings.

The military's central command has been meeting frequently during the past week to review intelligence on the political situation as well as what many see as a growing economic crisis from the continued unrest. Banks and the stock market are scheduled to remain closed for a second day Tuesday.

Israel, meanwhile, granted Egypt permission to move two battalions of soldiers into the Sinai Peninsula, which has been largely demilitarized since the two countries signed a peace treaty in 1979. The area is populated by Bedouin tribes that have posed a challenge to Egyptian authorities for years.

Mr. Mubarak ordered his new Cabinet Sunday to preserve subsidies, control inflation and provide more jobs.  In a letter read on state television, the embattled president also stressed the need for political reform through dialogue with the country's opposition parties.

An unprecedented Internet cutoff remained in place for a fourth day Monday, an apparent move by the government to disrupt protest organizers.

Watch raw video from the streets of Egypt


NEW: Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Nearly Every Job in America Mapped in Detail

A nifty map pinpoints practically every job in the United States, revealing the economic character of America’s metropolitan areas, which also helps to inform the local culture

Corruption Busting Is Her Game

South African activist is building 'international online community of thousands of corruption fighters'

Former SAF Businessman Gives Books, Love of Reading to Students

Steve Tsakaris now involved in nonprofit Read to Rise, which distributes books in Soweto, encourages lower-grade primary school students to read

This forum has been closed.
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.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video In Cambodian Capital, Political Motives Seen Behind Canceled Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle reports from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs