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Egypt protesters hold Tahrir, mull strategy and demands

As protests against the final verdict in Mubarak's trial continue in Tahrir and all around Egypt, one city jumps in with their set of demands as revolutionary forces in Cairo crystalise theirs

Dina Samak , Sunday 3 Jun 2012
Tahrir 2
Protesters in Tahrir Square early Sunday evening (Photo: Mai Shaheen)
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Views: 5630

For the second day demonstrators are still occupying Tahrir Square in Cairo to protest against what they consider a disappointing verdict announced on Saturday against Mubarak, his sons, his minister of interior and six of his senior aides.

Numbers have started to build up in Tahrir Square's sit-in by the early hours of Sunday evening, reaching few thousands at press time as opposed to a few hundreds in the morning.

A number of a marches from across Cairo set off at 5pm and were all scheduled to wind up at the Square.

After a long night where hundreds of thousands expressed their fury and anger in peaceful demonstrations all over Egypt, a decision was made to convert the protests in Tahrir Square, Alexandria and Suez to a sit-in to push for change. In Cairo, they have yet to specify the demands, although Suez has eagerly listed theirs.

On Saturday, a Cairo criminal court announced a surprising verdict on the charges brought against ousted president Hosni Mubarak and long-time interior minister Habib El-Adly, who were slapped with life sentences after being charged with participating in the crime of killing of protesters during last year's January 25 Revolution.

Although the Cairo criminal court did slap Mubarak and El-Adly with life sentences for "not preventing the murder of protesters," all other defendants in the case, including Mubarak's two sons – Gamal and Alaa – and six of El-Adly's top aides, were cleared of all charges. The half-compromise was not welcomed by many Egyptians and they flooded Tahrir Square in an outpouring rivalling the original days of the revolution.

The early hours of the day after in Tahrir Square were calm and sleepy. As the workers of Egypt's largest governmental administrative building, known as Mogamaa, in Tahrir, began arriving at 7am, chants were heard again around the square.

Safwat Hegazi, the prominent Islamist preacher close to the Muslim Brotherhood, reached the square bright and early around 8am leading tens of demonstrators chanting "We are not tired, we want a complete revolution." In the hours that followed more small demonstrations arrived. Later, as the few hundreds who had spent their night in the square woke up, more protests were organised around the square.

More marches are planned throughout the day due to filter in from other parts of Cairo. The influential April 6 Youth movement, Youth for Justice and Freedom, Revolution Youth Coalition and the Revolutionary Socialists, among others, will hold a joint press conference at around 1pm to announce their demands.

In Suez, however, the demands of their sit-in last night in Arbaeen Square seems to have crystallised. The politically-active Suez Youth Bloc that was formed by different groups in the canal city after the ouster of Mubarak in February 2011 co-signed a statement.

The bloc demands a presidential council rule the country made up of revolution-friendly presidential hopefuls: leftist Hamdeen Sabbahi, social democratic Islamist Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh and Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as Mohamed ElBaradie, who decided to boycott the elections.  

The Suez Youth Bloc demands that the ruling military council handover power immediately and allow the proposed presidential council to run a new interim period. Under the new civilian ruling council a new constitution would be drafted and new presidential elections would be organised.

"It is too early to say whether these demands - or any others - are realistic," says political analyst Ayman El-Sayad to Ahram Online. "The only thing we can all be sure of is that those who hit the streets are angry and have a sense of injustice – and they have every right to feel so," he adds.

"But what will come out of this is still to be seen, depending on the capacity of the protests and the will of different political groups to find a way out."

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