Cairo: Tens of thousands of protesters occupied Cairo’s Tahrir Square to demand that Egypt’s generals cede power even after they appointed former Prime Minister Kamal el-Ganzouri to form a new government.
Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, head of the ruling army council, announced the decision on state-run television on Friday. El-Ganzouri declined to comment in a telephone interview. The council said elections due to start on 28 November won’t be postponed and it will stay in power until a presidential vote to be held by June. A counter-protest supporting the military in Abassiya Square grew into thousands after Friday prayers.
Egyptian supporters of Egypt’s ruling military council hold up a banner showing some of the council members. Photo: AP
“Kamal el-Ganzouri is not good because he is a remnant of the old regime,” said Saeed Abu el Ela, 48, a lawyer who joined the Tahrir protest. “They should have picked someone new so that the people would accept him. My problem is that he’s from the old regime and he’s old.”
The army council, which took over after Hosni Mubarak’s ouster in February, is seeking to form a new interim government in an attempt to defuse unrest that erupted 19 November and has left at least 38 people dead. The violence, which began in Cairo and cities including Alexandria, threatens to derail the elections and undermine attempts to secure financing for an economy still struggling to recover from this year’s revolt.
Central Cairo was peaceful after Friday prayers as the crowd in Tahrir Square swelled. Protest leaders have called for a million-person rally against military rule. “The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest Islamic group, won’t take part,” Mahmoud Ghozlan, a spokesman for the organization, said by telephone. The group is expected to form one of the largest blocs in parliament after the election.
Ganzouri, 78, served as prime minister under Mubarak from 1996 to 1999.” He was the one who oversaw the privatization of companies and fired workers,” said Fatma Ramadan, 45, an activist at the Tahrir protest.”He has many problems.”
“There will be chaos if the army steps down now,” council member Mamdouh Shahine told reporters on Thursday. For the military council to abandon power and running the country’s affairs would be a betrayal of trust, because it came after the approval of the people.