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Military Chief appeals for halt to protests

To cheers and whistles, the Head of Military Central region addresses the protesters in Tahrir Square

Ahram Online and Reuters, Saturday 5 Feb 2011
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The Head of the Military Central region made a visit to Tahrir Square where he tried to persuade them to leave the square and stop the protests that he said had affected the economic life of Cairo.

Major General  Hasan El Reweeny arrived to address the crowd on Saturday amid cheers and whistles from the protesters. General El Reweeny arrived with five military officials and addressed the crowd but was repeatedly interrupted by the protesters. They chanted slogans, repeated in the last few days of protests, including “The army and the people are united,” and “We will not leave, he will leave,” referring to President Mubarak.

"You all have the right to express yourselves but please save what is left of Egypt. Look around you," El-Roweny stated using a loudspeaker and standing on a podium.

The crowd responded with shouts that President Hosni Mubarak should resign, at which Roweny stepped down saying, "I will not speak amid such chants."

After he addressed the crowd El Reweeny met with several political forces and discussed the crisis with them. They told him that they felt that the army is united with the protesters and the military officials should feel safe and secure whilst walking among the crowds - which have reached tens of thousands in Tahrir Square today.

Despite the interruption the protesters warmly welcomed El Reweeny and his aides. He gave them bouquets of flowers and took young children to kiss and shake hands with the officials.

Despite the rain which has led many protesters to seek shelter in makeshift blankets, erected upon iron rods, the atmosphere has been festive in Tahrir Square with protesters chanting and singing patriotic songs and waving flags.

It has been reported however that it was difficult for many protesters to enter Tahrir Square. The army closed off the entrance from Abdel Moneim Riad and made protesters enter in groups of ten, creating huge lines with some people waiting two hours before entering.

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