Egypt: sit-in at cabinet building launched to demand “national salvation government”

New street clashes broke out in Cairo Nov. 26, the day after a young protester was killed when he was run over by a police truck. The incident occurred when protesters attempted to march on the Interior Ministry, which oversees the security forces, to oppose repression that has now left 40 dead in a week of demonstrations. Police erected a concrete barricade on the street connecting Tahrir Square and the Interior Ministry, which protesters have sprayed with graffiti reading, “Freedom is coming.” Protesters remain in control of Tahrir Square, and have extended their sit-in to the nearby building that houses the cabinet, demanding the formation of a civilian-led “national salvation government.”

The sit-in at the cabinet building was launched Friday Nov. 25, during the so-called “march of a million” (actual estimates were around 800,000), in response to the naming of a new prime minister, Kamal al-Ganzuri, who once served as premier under Mubarak. Hundreds of demonstrators in Tahrir Square branched off to the cabinet offices to block Ganzuri from entering the building, chanting “revolution” and “Ganzuri is a former regime leftover.”

Meanwhile, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, the head of the ruling military council, held talks on de-escalating the crisis, meeting separately with opposition leader and Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei and presidential hopeful Amr Moussa, former head of the Arab League. The Friday Tahrir protest was countered by a rival demonstration in a square about three kilometers away, where more than 10,000 gathered to show support for the military. (NYT, AP, AFP, Ahram Online, AlMasry AlYoum, Nov. 26)

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) ironically issued a statement the night before the Friday march, calling for an end to violence against protesters and stating that demonstrations are a protected right, as long as they were peaceful. The SCAF also assured citizens that arrested demonstrators would be released. However, it seems increasingly unlikely that the protest movement will be defused before the Nov. 28 parliamentary elections. Earlier in the week, Egypt’s Supreme Administrative Court suspended a verdict handed down by the Mansoura Administrative Court that prohibited former officials of Mubaraks’ long-ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) from participating in the upcoming election. As a result, most of the officials who joined other parties or planned to run independently are now allowed to continue their campaigns. (Jurist, Nov. 24)

See our last posts on Egypt and the Arab revolutions.

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