Egypt deploys soldiers, tanks ahead of strike

Reuters, Ahram Online, Thursday 9 Feb 2012

Troops and tanks return to Egypt's streets in preparation for anniversary of Mubarak's fall, move seen as warning to activists planning strike, civil disobedience campaign

Security forces and bystanders are seen in Assuit, Egypt, Saturday, Dec. 31, 2011. (AP /Mamdouh Thab
Security forces and military police in Assuit, Egypt, Saturday, Dec. 31, 2011. (AP /Mamdouh Thabet)

Egypt's ruling generals have deployed additional soldiers and tanks across the country in preparation for the anniversary of former president Hosni Mubarak's ouster from power on 11 February.

The move is seen as a warning to activists planning to mark the day with a national strike and civil disobedience campaign to demand a swifter transition to civilian rule.

More patrols will be deployed across the country to "maintain the security ... of public, private and state buildings," said a statement issued by the ruling military council on Wednesday.

Lieutenant General Sami Enan, the armed forces chief of staff, urged Egyptians to "protect the security and stability of the country through work and production," the state news agency MENA reported.

Prime Minister Kamal Al-Ganzouri told a press conference that calls for civil disobedience were part of a plan to "overthrow the state" and all Egyptians should unite to get through the crises and dangers the country was facing.

Al-Azhar, a prestigious seat of Sunni Muslim learning, also criticised the calls for civil disobedience, the state-owned Al-Ahram news portal reported.

Pope Shenouda, head of the Orthodox Coptic church, said the civil disobedience was against religion, according to the MENA news agency

Egypt's de facto ruler Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, called earlier this week for plans for the first post-Mubarak presidential election, currently scheduled for June, to be completed quickly.

Elections for the lower house of parliament have finished and those for the upper house are under way. The armed forces have said they will hand over power to civilian authorities after the presidential poll.

Some Egyptians accuse the army of blocking real reform of the security forces, which enjoyed virtual impunity under Mubarak.

At least 15 people have died in street fighting in Cairo and the eastern city of Suez since last week, in protests at the death of 74 people at a football match in Port Said. Many protesters blame the deaths on the security forces.

Troops and tanks began appearing at various strategic points in Cairo on Wednesday evening.

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