Military police deploys in Port Said, Qandil orders January clashes probe

Ahram Online, Saturday 23 Feb 2013

Military police have entered the streets of restive Port Said with the charge of protecting lives and property amid ongoing anti-government protests

Port Said
Egyptian Ultras, hard-core soccer fans, chant anti-president Mohammed Morsi slogans while attending a rally in front of the provincial government headquarters, unseen, in Port Said (Photo: AP)

The Egyptian Armed Forces have deployed military police to the streets of Port Said to manage traffic in the absence of interior ministry police as the city enters its seventh day of protests and calls for civil disobedience.

Hundreds of members of the "Green Eagles" ultras, hardcore fans of Al-Masry football club, blocked the Port Said-Ismailia road and the Port Said-Cairo road Saturday. They also closed down Al-Raswa Customs Port.

After negotiations between military and police forces and protesters, the Port Said-Ismailia road was opened for traffic.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Hisham Qandil said Saturday that a judge had been assigned to investigate last month's clashes in Port Said that left around 50 dead after a partial verdict was announced in the Port Said 2012 football massacre case.

Qandil also said that declaring a state of emergency in the city, which angered many when announced by President Mohamed Morsi 27 January and was later left to the governor's discretion, was due to "exceptional circumstances."

Qandil added that putting military forces in the city's streets was aimed at "protecting citizens' lives and possessions."

Several marches were staged in the city Saturday, also causing traffic problems.

Several groups, most prominently the Green Eagles, called for civil disobedience in Port Said last week. Anti-government rallies in the city have demanded "an apology from the presidency for neglecting Port Said and imposing a state of emergency," Ali 'Spicy', a leading member of Green Eagles, told Ahram Online.

Protests in the city also led to school activities being suspended and the closure of the city's duty-free zone, which includes around 29 factories.

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