Egypt's military council issues stern warnings to strikers and satellite stations

Ahram Online, Mostafa Ali, Thursday 8 Sep 2011

The ruling military council told prime minister Sharaf that his cabinet must take tough measures to halt spreading strikes and protests by workers, and to curb Satellite TV stations

Field Marshal Tantawi, head of Egypt's military council

The ruling military council met for three hours last night with Prime Minister Essam Sharaf and his cabinet to discuss what a cabinet spokeperson described as a “deteriorating security situation”.

The meeting comes at the end of a tumultuous week politically, which threatens to derail the military council’s plans to hold stabilizing parliamentary elections later this year.

In the last few days, thousands of workers such as postal employees have begun a series of economic strikes that disrupted production across the nation and others such as Doctors and 22,000 textile workers are planning to join the strike wave at the beginning of next week.

Meanwhile, Revolutionary youth groups such as 6 of April Movement continue to mobilize for a massive rally to take place in Tahrir square on 9 September to challenge army use of military courts against civilians.

Last Tuesday, police violently dispersed fans of the country’s largest football team, Ahly, at the end of an otherwise uneventful Egypt cup game, and chased hundreds of team supporters in streets around the stadium for hours.

The council issued six directives for Sharaf to follow immediately.

First, the cabinet will use all legal means to prosecute what the council described as all and any acts of thuggery.

Second, the cabinet will support all police efforts to maintain peace.

Third, the cabinet will intervene to halt all strike actions, and it will enforce a law it passed last spring, which criminalizes certain strikes that disrupt public life.

Fourth, Sharaf will not negotiate with strikers over any demands until workers halt their workplace actions.

Fifth, Sharf will suspend issuing new licenses to Satellite television stations.

Sixth, the cabinet will start legal procedures to review licenses it issued to any Satellite television network that incites violence and protests.

The minister of information in Sharaf’s cabinet,Osama Haikal, briefed reporters on the council’s instructions at the end of the joint meeting. Haikal said that the military council remains committed to freedom of expression and media.

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