Bedouin tribes in North Sinai continue anti-govt protest

Zeinab El Gundy , Sunday 4 Nov 2012

Bedouins continued to protest for the second day in North Sinai, demanding fuel, an end to military trials, and an elected governor

Protesters sit in a road blocked by burning tires in front of the North Sinai governorate headquarters in el-Arish, Egypt (Photo: AP)

Local tribes and Bedouins in North Sinai continue to protest in several areas of the governorate and at the governorate headquarters in Al-Arish for the second day.

Protests have reportedly been taking place in Al-Arish, central Sinai and Sheikh Zowaid city with numbers of demonstrators on the rise.

The main demands of the protesters, according to local activists who spoke to Ahram Online from the governorate, are to release local tribesmen who were subjected to military trials and are currently in prison, provide North Sinai with fuel, and to have an elected governor instead of an appointed one.

For years Sinai's locals have been complaining of being the target of security crackdowns and military trials following terrorist attacks in their governorate.

North Sinai has also been suffering from fuel shortage problems. Bedouin tribes have long accused the government of ignoring their fuel shortage problems, affecting both their life and tourism in the area.

Locals demonstrating further demanded their governor be elected instead of appointed by the country's president, as currently is the case. They also demanded the newly appointed deputy governor, Adel Katamesh, a Muslim Brotherhood and Freedom and Justice Party member, be dismissed.

Demonstrations erupted yesterday following the killing of three policemen in Al-Arish in an armed assault that security sources claimed was carried out to avenge the killing of three Sinai residents by police last week.

Protesters at Al-Arish governorate HQ also include family members of those shot down by police last week. Showing their anger, protesters set fire to tires, causing huge clouds of smoke that can be seen several blocks away.  

According to news reports, several chieftains of major tribes in the governorate were going to meet both Defense Minister Abdel Fatah El-Sissy and Interior Minister Ahmed Gamal El-Din during their visit to Sinai, planned following the killing of the policemen.

However, the ministers, who originally planned their visit to check on the security status in the governorate and who meanwhile dismissed the head of security in response to the killings, returned to Cairo without meeting any local representatives.  

Sinai Governor Said Abdel Fatah and his deputy, Katamesh, held a meeting with chieftains in an attempt to hear their complaints and quell the protests.

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