November 23, 2011 6:23:57 pm
Fresh riots erupted in Egypt today as the country sank into deeper crisis with thousands of pro-democracy protesters clashing with the police,leaving three people dead to swell the toll in five days of rioting to 41.
The protesters remained defiant and refused to budge from the Square,symbolising the country’s Spring revolution as huge mass of people demanded an immediate end of military rule,rejecting the Army’s overture of holding a referendum for immediate transfer of power to civilian authorities.
Clashes broke out at Mohammad Mahmud,just off the Tahrir Square,which has now become the epicentre of anti-military protest and later health department officials said,three people were brought dead to the hospital,including a 10 year old child.
Police and para military forces barricaded all roads leading to the square,shooting tear gas and cane charging the protesters.
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Despite calls by the Army and the police,protesters are refusing to move out from the area,forcing direct confrontation with authorities.
“We don’t believe Tantawi. Tantawi is Mubarak,copy paste it. He is Mubarak in a military uniform,” they chanted,giving a sharp rebuff to the ageing military ruler Marshall Hussein Tantawi,who was once the handpicked defence minister of ousted Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak.
Chanting “Leave”,”Leave”,to the Army,the protesters for the fifth day in a row clashed with the police in five days of unrest across the country,which has also left more than 2,000 wounded. With three more deaths officials said the casualty count had gone up to 41.
The continued standoff brought the country to a fresh crisis as the authorities were unable to stop protests with less than a week before the parliamentary elections,the first since downfall of Mubarak.
Last night,Tantawi promised to push up Presidential elections in the first half of 2012 but the protesters rejected his olive branch,and remained adamant on formation of a national salvation government.
Tantawi made the announcement in an appearance on TV as protesters fought with soldiers and police in streets leading to the iconic square — the birthplace of the revolution.
The protesters said,they wanted to hear nothing short of immediate end to military rule. The Army now appears to be in direct line of confrontation with the protesters as people are angry at the military council,which they accuse of being an extension of old regime and of resorting to Mubarak-era tactics of stifling dissent.
The continued wave of fresh protest have already led to the resignation of the cabinet headed by Essam Sharaf on Monday,ahead of the crucial parliamentary polls which are due from November 28.
Already the Egyptian media is dubbing the protest as “A second revolution”,warning that relations between the Army and the public were close to break point.
Police have been using tear gas,rubber bullets and bird shot against protesters who have been throwing stones.
The violence erupted on Saturday after a peaceful protest against the continuing military rule on Friday.
Egypt,that saw the ouster of longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak in February this year,has plunged into fresh crisis after protesters returned in large numbers to Tahrir Square to put pressure on the military to quicken the transition to democracy.
They are also demanding holding of presidential elections by April 2012 and a complete overhaul of the Interior Ministry,which they believe is still dominated by Mubarak-era people.
“This land belongs to Egyptians. It is not for sale and does not need any guardians,” read a banner as protesters assembled at the Square.
“All Egyptians demand an Egypt run by civilians,” another banner said.
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