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EGYPT: Thousands in Tahrir Square angry at slow pace of reforms

September 9, 2011 | 11:00 am

Tahrir Square protest in Egypt

Thousands of Egyptians returned to Tahrir Square on Friday, calling on the ruling Supreme Council of Armed Forces to fulfill the demands of the revolution that overthrew former President Hosni Mubarak.   

Organized by the National Front for Change and April 6th Youth Movement, the rally, which was boycotted by the nation's main Islamist parties, was the first in Tahrir since a sit-in in July and early August that lasted for more than three weeks and made similar demands.

Participating movements agreed on a list of eight demands, including an end to military tribunals for civilians, a commitment from the ruling council to a time frame for transferring power to a civilian government, and amending the elections law ahead of the vote for a new parliament in November. The protest slogan was "Correcting the path of the revolution."

With some of the demonstrators' demands unchanged from what protesters have been seeking since toppling Mubarak’s regime on Feb.11, Friday's rally reflected a growing dismay over Egypt's political future, the pace of reforms and the ruling generals.

"SCAF had everyone's support in February and they should have taken a number of revolutionary steps to reorganize Egypt, but they didn't," said Sayed Naguib, a 37-year-old owner of a shop selling communications accessories. "SCAF members and the military in general were the best of the worst in Mubarak's regime, but it seems to me that they still have Mubarak's way of slow thinking."

Naguib and others in Tahrir said the parliamentary elections law put in place by the ruling generals after the revolution will easily allow remnants of the dissolved ruling National Democratic Party to win new legislative seats. 

"A distorted parliament will have severe negative effects on the country's future," said Nasser Sami, another protester.

Rights advocates claim that 12,000 civilians have been sentenced by military tribunals after the council took over the country and arrested bloggers, activists and protesters. The military has promised to end such trials once the 31-year-old emergency laws are abolished, but many activists are skeptical.

"SCAF has yet to announce when emergency laws will be terminated, and we don't know for how long these military trials will continue for. This is not what we carried out our revolution for," Sami said.

-- Amro Hassan in Cairo

Photo: Protesters in Tahrir Square on Friday. Credit: AFP

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