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Good Morning,Egypt

Day after: Protesters clean up,leave Tahrir—to return if army doesn’t keep promise.

Written by Manu Pubby | Cairo |
February 13, 2011 1:56:12 am

On a day Egypt woke up to a new freedom,thousands continued to descend on Tahrir Square—the liberation centre that was the core of the uprising—but this time they were armed with brooms and dustbins in a symbolic clean-up to bring back the country to normalcy.

After a night-long party that lit up Cairo streets,thousands of Egyptians streamed into the square on Friday,removing banners,taking down tents,carting out garbage and even scrubbing the streets.

Many held up signs saying that ‘Egypt is back to normal,sorry for the interruption’ while others wore signs saying ‘Yesterday I was a demonstrator,today I rebuild Egypt’.

Even as the army,which is now in complete control,tried to pacify global and Israeli concerns by announcing that it would abide by all international treaties and agreements,many at the square resolved to stay put to see through a transition to democracy.

The main opposition group that has been driving the protests announced that Tahrir would be emptied after the army made new promises that it would hand power to an elected government.

While most headed out of the square by late evening,some have stayed back to put a symbolic presence as the army has not put out a timeline for constitutional changes and elections.

However,Tahrir Square seems to be set for a return to normalcy with the main opposition group saying that it would end the demonstrations but promising to put up rallies every Friday post afternoon prayers to remind the army of the task ahead.

While the army has announced that it would lift emergency laws and bring constitutional amendments to make way for fair elections,many at the square reflected fears in the country about the coming days,the primary being on whether the military would deliver on its promise.

Even as the core group that started the protest began moving out of liberation square,vowing to come back if there were any signs of the return of the old regime,hundreds poured into Tahrir to clean the streets,among them first-timers keen to make a contribution to the liberation square. “I did not come before this. Now I feel I should have been a part of this change. I will at least help in cleaning it up so that things go back to normal,” young software engineer Abdel Said,who works at a multinational company,said,shifting out bag after bag of trash.

The overwhelming mood at the square was to get things back on track so that the Egyptian economy doesn’t suffer. Many held up signs saying ‘Enter Egypt in peace and safety’,a sign pleading for the return of tourists that contribute to a major chunk of the economy.

The army began removing some of the barricades in Tahrir Square in the move towards normalcy. “I think we need to try and put the mistrust aside. We have been promised by the army that they will soon give out a timetable for the changes. Until that,we need to believe that they will fulfill their promises,” artist Hala Elkoussy,36,said. She had said days ago that she would end up dead in prison if she left Tahrir.

At the same time,the protestors were not ready to forget the sacrifices of the past that led to the regime change. A group of young demonstrators entered the square by evening with a large crane carrying a marble stone that would be erected in the memory of the dead.

The famous Pyramid complex outside Cairo has also been thrown open but visitors stayed away. The stock market,which had to open Sunday,is now expected to reopen on Wednesday,the regulators announced.

The military made more announcements on Saturday to the people and the world,assuring that all international treaties¿Israel had special concerns in this department¿would remain and a new government would be formed but till then,current functionaries would continue working. In a bid to return normalcy on the streets,the army also asked citizens to respect the police that will strive to live up to its new motto of ‘Service to the People’.

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