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Clashes Continue as Egypt Cheers New PM Designate

Egyptian PM-designate Essam Sharaf, with microphone, speaks to demonstrators in Tahrir Square in Cairo, March 4 2011

Hundreds of protesters upset at human rights violations under the previous Egyptian government tried to storm a building of the internal security service Friday in Alexandria, even as demonstrators in Cairo welcomed Egypt's new prime minister.

In Cairo's Tahrir [Liberation] Square, Essam Sharaf, told the crowds that he is working to meet the people's demands.

Sharaf, a U.S.-educated civil engineer, was appointed Thursday to the caretaker post. He gave a short speech in the square, where large crowds have been gathering each Friday to call for political and economic reform. He said he wants to see that Egypt becomes a country where the security forces work for the good of the citizens.

Sharaf closed by repeating the protesters' slogan, "Raise your head up, you are Egyptian."

Meanwhile, Egyptian military officials announced that a referendum on amendments to the country's constitution is scheduled for March 19.

Eighteen days of political protests led to President Hosni Mubarak's resignation last month. Since then, activists have gathered on Fridays to press for progress on reforms.

On Thursday, the military - which has assumed temporary control of the government - appointed Sharaf as prime minister, just hours after his predecessor, Ahmed Shafiq, stepped down. A statement from the military said Sharaf has been asked to form a caretaker government.

The former prime minister's resignation was a key demand of anti-government protesters.

The new prime minister, Sharaf, served in Mubarak's cabinet for 18 months in 2004 and 2005, and he is viewed as one of the few officials with significant government experience but untainted by ties to the ousted regime.

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