Million-strong protests in Egypt demand end of military rule, Tantawi accepts Cabinet resignation, battle continues

Ahram Online, Tuesday 22 Nov 2011

A million Egyptians return to Tahrir to demand an end to military rule; police continue bloody crackdown against revolutionaries; Field Marshal Tantawi accepts Cabinet resignation; protesters reject SCAF gestures as too little

Tahrir square
Tahrir square clashes (Photo: Mai Shaheen)

1:20 Ministry of Health: two  killed, 690 injured in Cairo,  one killed and 28 injured in Alexandria clashes.

00:00 Numbers in Tahrir now around 20 000. 

23:25 Military Chief of Staff, General Sami Anan, will release a statement shortly.

22:00 Ahram Online reporters confirm that the Central Security Forces (CSF) is still firing tear gas at protesters in Mohamed Mahmoud street. Protesters are still continuing to pull wounded comrades out of the street. Clashes intensify in Alexandria.

.20:10 Highlights - what few there are - from Field Marshal Tantawi's speech see him talk of the police and the Army as two distinct entities while also guaranteeing elections by June 2012.

20:00 Tahrir Square responds to Field Marshal Tantawi's address to the nation with booming chants of "The people demand the removal of the field marshal" and "Down, down with military rule."

19:46 The field marshal comes on state TV to deliver his much-anticipated address. Here is a breakdown of what Egypt's ruler has to say in response to four days of protests despite the Ministry of Interior's continued deadly crackdown on Egyptians:

1. Tribute to the martyrs of January 25 Revolution.

2. Egyptian Army protects the will of the Egyptian people.

3. The Army has been patient in dealing with multiple attempts to smear its reputation and patriotism over the last few months.

4. The Army has not shot one bullet at an Egyptian citizen

5. The Army will never stand in opposition to the Egyptian people.

6. The Army's main goal since February has been to bring back a sense of security to the Egyptian street.

7. The Army tried to stand behind the police force, which protects the Egypt people.

8. The Army and the goverment have been steadfast in protecting the national interests and what's best for the country under very harsh conditions.

9. The Army continuosly consulted with all political forces in the country and never made any unilateral decisions during this transistional period.

10. The Army attempted to facilitate the birth of a new democratic age in the history of Egypt.

11. The SCAF never wavered in its support of holding parliamentary elections and handing power to a civilian administration.

12. We stopped referring civilians to military trials based on the wishes of our people.

13. Some continued to doubt the honest intentions of the SCAF. Many continued to instigate divisions between the Army and the people.

14. We are not interested in holding a monopoly over power in Egypt.

15. We are committed to defending the national interests of this nation.

16. We have accepted the resignation of Essam Sharaf's government and I have directed the outgoing Cabinet to continue fulfilling their obligations until a new cabinet is formed.

17. We reiterate our commitment to holding parliamentary and presidential elections no later than June 2012. We will hand over power to a civilan administration, should the people so wish it.

19:05 Thousands of protesters have gathered in front of Alexandria's Northern District military command to march towards the Alexandria police directorate.

19:02 Electricity has been cut in some of the streets surrounding the Ministry of Interior’s headquarters, including El-Bostan and Bab El-Louk Streets.

18:25 An unnamed official is quoted by Ahram’s Arabic website as saying that compensating the families of the martyrs who died at the hand of the CSF in the past four days is also part of the agreement reached between Anaan and the political forces earlier today.

18:18 In Alexandria, thousands of protesters reach the Northern District military command.

18:16 Battles continue to rage between protesters and CSF troops in Mohamed Mahmoud Street off Tahrir Square. All day victims have been ferried from the front to the field hospitals in and around the square, adding to the growing number of casualties from these four days.

18:13 Protesters in Suez flock to Arbaeen Square as the pressure mounts on the military council to recognise this week for what it is: a mass uprising against its rule.

18:09 According to the April 6 Youth Movement, mass protests are being held in the cities of Qena,Beni-Soueif, Al-Sharqiya, and Al-Wadi Al-Gadid.

18:00 Political figures and representatives have finished their meeting with General Sami Anan, Army chief of Staff and member of the SCAF. Chairman of Al-Wasat Party, Abu El-Ela Mady, told Al Hayat TV channel that they reached the following: 

- Holding presidential elections on 30 June 2012 while parliamentary elections will stay on schedule.

- Allowing freedom of protest and sit-ins. 

- An immediate release of the detainees arrested since last Saturday.

- Forming a new "national salvation" unity government.

- The SCAF has no problem in having a referendum on whether the Army should return to their baracks or not.

17:44 De-facto ruler Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi will address Egypt within the hour. News agencies report that Tantawi is expected to announce plans to form a "national salvation" cabinet, set June 2012 as a definitive presidential election, bowing to mass protests that have the sweeping the country.

17:10 Demonstrators who gathered at Shubra march to Tahrir shouting chants against SCAF, Coptic Muslim unity, and the names of martyrs Mina Daniel and Khaled Said.Waving Egyptian flags and equipped with gas masks and goggles to protect against tear gas attacks, the protesters  are marching from Shubra to Talaat Harb Square, to end up in Tahrir. A group of thugs attempted to attack the march by hurling rocks and insults at the protesters, but they continued to march peacefully towards their destination.

17:07 On of the two army officers earlier carried on shoulders in Tahrir proved to be Army Captain Ahmed Shoman, a popular hero from the January uprising against Mubarak, rejoins Tahrir revolutionaries. Shoman told reporters in the square that the armed forces belong to the people, and "should never be above the people."

The captain added that his commanders' attempts to pass constitutional amendments that place the military council above the rest of Egyptian society created "a very dangerous situation." The amendments to which Shoman referred had met with fierce oppostion and were later removed from SCAF's proposed constitutional document. Shoman also told reporters that he found the return of Mubarak's NDP officials to political life "unacceptable".

17:05 Chief of Staff and deputy head of SCAF, Sami Anaan, held a meeting this afternoon with the leaders of a number of political parties and movements. They discussed possible solutions to contain the crisis.

17:00 Mass protest of close to 100,000 protesters march in Alexandria towards Al-Qaed Ibrahim mosque, the square before which is Alexandria's equivalent of Tahrir Square.

16:45 Potential presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabhi has arrived at Tahrir Square, leading a rally from Mostafa Mahmoud Square. Potential presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Aboul-Fotouh is currently in Tahrir helping at the field hospitals. Both Sabhi and Aboul-Fotouh boycotted today's meeting between General Sami Anan, military chief-of-staff, with political powers.

16:40 Ahram’s Arabic website reports that the barage of tear gas canisters fired at protesters in Mohamed Mahmoud St, off Tahrir, caused an apartment building close to the interior ministery headquarters to catch fire. The protesters tried to put out the fire but were bombarded with more tear gas, before fire trucks arrived to extinguish the flame.

16:15 Two army officers, in their military fatigues, join Tahrir protest, and chants against SCAF. The officers are carried on the protesters shoulders, wildly cheered by the crowds, as they wave their military IDs to confirm that they are in fact serving armed forces officers.

15:45 Hundreds March from Giza towards Tahrir square chanting against the Supreme Council for Armed Forces and demanding "Freedom, justice and social justice". The protesters including some of the No to Military Trials campaign activists, Popular Committees for Defending the Revolution and the Revolutionary Socialists.

15:28 Hundreds of protesters gather in Shubra and begin marching towards Tahrir Square chanting against SCAF and Field Marshal Tantawy. 

Another march has started at Mostafa Mahmoud square in Mohendessin heading to Tahrir square.

15:15 Thousands of students of Ain Shams University, heading from their campus in north Cairo to Tahrir, have reached Ramsis street and should arrive in the revolutionary epicentre soon.

15:00 Hundreds rally in the working class district of Sayda Zeinab, head for Tahrir square, chanting anti-SCAF slogans.

14:41 Thousands of Cairo university students arrive in Tahrir Square, having marched from their university in Giza.

14:35 Women protesters in Tahrir plan a thousand-woman march to form a buffer-zone in Mohamed Mahmoud street, where the clashes are ongoing between protesters and police forces since Saturday.

14:33 Protesters in Tahrir hold a funeral procession for one of the martyrs, carrying his coffin from Omar Makram mosque and circling the square.

14:20 The Revolution Union announces it no longer recognises SCAF. The Union, which was formed by a number of youth groups and political figures after the ouster on Mubarak in February, demanded in a statement it issued today that SCAF should to transfer power to a national salvation government fully empowered to run the transitional period, until a new president is elected. The statement said SCAF's hands are "drenched with Egyptian blood."

14:14 The military has put up barbed wire barriers in the streets leading to the Ministry of Interior, in an attempt to separate protesters and police. Security forces have appealed to the protesters to evacuate the areas surrounding the ministry.

14:00 Famous Egyptian blogger Mahmoud Salem, @Sandmonkey, just tweeted the following: Guys, if u r in and want to buy helmets and masks, head to midan elgame3, haroun st. plz rt.

13:45 @e-Socialists on Twitter: Mass rallies in the Delta city of Mansoura chanting "Down with miitary rule".

13:36 March of 1,500 Egyptians and Syrian residents arrive at the square chanting against both Tantawi and Bashar Al-Assad.

13: 25 Thousands of Cairo University students are marching on their way to Tahrir square. They are chanting slogans calling for Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi and his Supreme Military Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) to leave. The January revolution iconic chant "The people want the overthrow of the regime" has been revived, chanted by the Cairo University students

Other planned marches are set to move from Shubra, Mustafa Mahmoud Square, Ain Shams University and Giza Square at 3pm, to head for Tahrir, which they expect to reach sometime around 4pm.

13:18 Suez activists prepare to gather at Arba'een Square to join in the million man march. In the city of Damietta, a mass rally is set to start at 4:30pm in Al-Sa'a Square.

13:15 Tweets coming out of Tahrir say they have sufficient medical supplies for now, but need food, blankets, water and juice, tweeted by @AyaShetta.

13:10  In Alexandria, protesters gather in front of Al-Qaed Ibrahim mosque in to prepare for today's million man march in Egypt's second largest city. The city has witnessed massive demonstrations against SCAF in the past two days. Monday evening thousands held an angry rally outside of the army's headquarters in the city. Revolutionaries buried Bahaa El-Senoussi, a member of the Revolutionary Youth Coalition, who was killed on Sunday by a bullet fired by police.

Reporters expect thousands to join the gathering and a march on the military's headquarters is set for 4pm.

13:11 Reports from medical sources in Tahrir say 500 injured during the past two hours, at a rate of one injured every 5 seconds.

12:30 Tahrir square is now filling up with demonstrators entering from all directions to join a million man march set for 4pm to demand that the ruling military council hand power to a civilian government.

The number has jumped to 20,000 people up from a few thousands just 2 hours ago.

Hundreds of thousands are expected to be in the square by the early hours of the evening to demand an end to military rule, the ousting of the 8-months old government of prime minister Essam Sharaf, and the formation of a national salvation government.

Ahram Online reporters confirm that the Central Security Forces (CSF) is still firing tear gas at thousands of protesters who have packed Mohamed Mahmoud street running off the square and leading to the Interior Ministry. Protesters are continuing to pull wounded comrades out of the street that witnessed round-the-clock bloody battles for 3 days straight. Doctors at the field hospital in the central island of the square say that they are confronting a new type of tear gas which is resistant to traditional methods of treatment.

Meanwhile, protesters are setting up tents in the central island in what appears to be preparatory work for a sit-in that would outlast today's demonstration.

Banners are flying around the island demanding a civilian government, and the end of military rule.

Ahram Online reporters are on the ground and will update readers of all major developments in the square as the day unfolds.

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