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

Multimedia

Audio

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

Polls Open in Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

China to Invest $20 billion In India Amid Border Dispute

Border spat between armies of two countries in Himalayas underlines mutual tensions despite growing commercial ties highlighted by Xi Jinping's high profile visit More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country 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.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid