Sharaf's government on the edge as Egypt's Tahrir calls for another million man march

Mostafa Ali, Thursday 14 Jul 2011

Preparations for another set of million-man marches are already underway tomorrow across Egypt as dozens of revolution coalitions call for the revolution's demands to be fulfilled

Essam Sharaf
Egypt's new Prime Minister-designate Essam Sharaf delivers a speech during a pro-democracy rally at Tahrir Square in Cairo March 4, 2011 (Photo: Reuters)

Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf has delivered not one but two major speeches this week promising reform to angry protesters and revolutionary coalitions who have been working the streets and squares of cities across the country in the last few weeks chanting against his government as well as the ruling military council which appointed him.

In those speeches, Sharaf announced that he will take steps to meet protesters’ demands such as purging his cabinet of former NDP members, backing speedy and televised trials for Mubarak and his entourage, and ridding the ministry of interior from officers that killed demonstrators during the January 25 uprising.

Feeling tremendous pressure from below, Sharaf claims to have started to search for and interview potential ministers who might be more responsive to the public’s urgent needs than the crew he has surrounded himself with since he took office last March.

Moreover, yesterday, Sharaf’s current minister of interior, Mansour El-Eissawi, conducted one of the biggest overhauling operations of the police force in recent Egyptian history.

Political forces that support Sharaf, such as the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist groups, have called on the public to give the prime minister a chance to implement his promises.

Above all, the ruling military council itself renewed its confidence in Sharaf and announced that he is their man for now.

Despite such support from a number of quarters, it seems that Prime Minister Sharaf will not be lucky enough to catch a break this week.

This afternoon, as anti-government sit-ins continue in Cairo and other cities for the sixth straight day, an adhoc group of more than a dozen influential revolutionary youth coalitions and political forces announced that they are calling for the immediate resignation of Sharaf and his entire cabinet.

The group made their announcement in a press conference that they held at the Journalists’ Syndicate in downtown Cairo.

Mostafa Shawki, a member of the Revolution Youth Coalition, a key player in the group, read a prepared statement that outlined the agreement these forces reached in a meeting they held last night.

First, all signatories declared their full support for the right of protesters in Tahrir and across the country to stage peaceful sit-ins to press for the implementation of all the revolution’s demands.

The statement also made it clear that all signatories support all of the specific demands of the sit-ins currently taking place, such as purging all state institutions of corrupt and brutal remnants from the Mubarak era, an immediate halt to all military trials of civilians, justice for the martyrs’ families and setting a living minimum wage for Egyptian workers.

Second, the group call for the immediate resignation of Sharaf and his cabinet.

The group said that they are currently discussing the names of possible acceptable candidates for a new prime minister to replace Sharaf.

“Sharaf is an honourable man but he is not fit to lead the country at this stage or to achieve the goals of the revolution in a timely manner,” said Nasser Abdel Hamid, another leading member of the Revolution Youth Coalition.

Signatories to the statement include groups such as The National Association for Change, Revolution Youth Coalition, Youth for Justice and Freedom, April 6 Youth Movement, the Democratic Front party, the Egyptian Association of Independent Trade Unions and the Popular Socialist Alliance Party.

Five presidential hopefuls also signed the statement: Mohamed ElBaradei, Amr Moussa, Hisham El-Bastawisi, Ayman Nour and Hamdin Sabahi.

Finally, Shadi El-Ghazali Harb, a member of the youth section of the Democratic Front party, called on all Egyptians to join tomorrow’s planned one million man marches which are set to take place in a number of cities around the country to show their support to the protesters and also for their demands.

“The people protesting in Tahrir are honest revolutionaries. Those who accuse us of being thugs want to smear and divide the revolutionary camp,” El-Ghazali Harb said.

Khaled Nabawi, a well known actor who attended the press conference, told reporters that he supports the constitutional right of people in Tahrir to stage peaceful sit-ins, which do not disrupt the people’s business.

“If we only accomplish half of the goals of the revolution, we will have failed. We must achieve all three original goals of the January 25 revolution: justice, freedom and social justice, in order to win,” Nabawi added.

Ahmed Maher, a leading member of the April 6 Youth Movement had told Ahram Online earlier in the day that plans are already underway for million man marches tomorrow.

He said that protesters will meet in several neighbourhoods around Cairo after Friday prayers and they will then converge in large numbers on Tahrir Square. He added that similar plans are also in place for other cities such as Alexandria, Suez and Port Said.

Finally, the adhoc group announced that it plans to read and widely distribute its statement supporting the sit-in and demanding a completely new cabinet at tomorrow’s protest.

“At the end of the day, Tahrir, as things ought to be, will make all final decisions,” said El-Ghazali Harb at the closing of the Press conference.

It is not yet clear how many people will turn out in Tahrir for tomorrow’s show of solidarity with those who have battled extreme heat and humidity conditions in the past six days in order to get their voices heard.

However, one thing is certain to happen; no one will suffer from tomorrow’s expected forecast of “hot and humid” weather more than the embattled prime minister. 

Short link: