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Egyptian Demonstrators Not Giving Up

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  • Interview with Dr. Walid Phares, author of "The Coming Revolution: Struggle for Freedom in the Middle East"

Douglas Mpuga

At least one person has been killed in the Egyptian capital Cairo as protesters again battled with Egyptian security forces. Eye witnesses say he was run over by a security vehicle.

Another three people were injured in the latest skirmishes, which followed violence Friday night in the Egyptian coastal city of Alexandria, according to officials.

Protesters in and around Cairo’s Tahrir Square resumed clashes with police Saturday morning as frustrated Egyptians chanted and pelted security forces with stones.

“The demonstrators are not giving up. They know this is their opportunity,” said Walid Phares, an expert on the Middle East and author of The Coming Revolution: Struggle for Freedom in the Middle East.

The demonstrators, he said, know that they have to pressure the military council to either resign or appoint a government that represents them before Monday’s parliamentary elections.

“They know that by Monday there will be legislative elections and a majority that will not represent them will form the Cabinet and will be an ally of the military council. I think the crisis is open at this point in time,” he said.

Phares noted that despite the appointment of Kamal al-Ganzuri as prime minister earlier this week, the demonstrators (youth, secular forces) have symbolically appointed ElBaradei, a former senior United Nations official, as their de facto prime minister.

“They have even formed a shadow Cabinet,” he said.

“Now the scene in Egypt has three players,” said Phares, “there is the military council determined to stay in power, the Muslim brotherhood who are maneuvering between the military council and the demonstrators [with the hope of winning the elections], and the popular majority as represented by demonstrators on the ground.”

If this popular nonviolent uprising occurred in any liberal democracy, he continued, elections could not be held as they would not represent the will of the people.

Phares called on the international community to pressure the military council to form an interim government that represents the demonstrators and other forces including the military and Muslim brotherhood.

This interim government, he said, should be able to oversee the forthcoming legislative elections not now but in a few months.

“It is more rational to hold [elections] them in a few months when everybody is ready, otherwise you are going to have elections where only one  party is ready and we know the results of that,” he added.

Phares noted that the demonstrators feel betrayed by the military council and unless the international community puts pressure on the military to form a representative interim government, there will be “an authoritarian regime coming from the military on one hand and the Muslim brotherhood through the parliament on the other hand."

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