Egypt upheaval: Mubarak’s regime dismantled

Military sacks parliament, pledges to hold elections by September

Agencies February 14, 2011


Egypt’s Higher Military Council pledged on Sunday to hold elections by September after scrapping the constitution and dissolving parliament in lockstep.

The moves – officially announced through a proclamation – came just as the civilian cabinet was holding its first meeting following Hosni Mubarak’s departure.

The council said it would “run the affairs of the country on a temporary basis for six months or until the end of parliamentary and presidential elections.” A panel will also be chosen to rewrite the constitution, it said. The final verdict, however, on the new charter will be made by ordinary Egyptians in a referendum to be held later.

The military council’s latest decisions were in tune with the demands of pro-democracy demonstrators in Tahrir Square and reflected their desire to insulate Mubarak’s National Democratic Party (NDP) from the power equation.

It also confirmed that Defence Minister Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi is now de facto head of state.

Opposition politician Ayman Nour welcomed the council’s decisions, calling it “a victory for the revolution”. Mahmoud Nassar, a youth movement leader, said: “The army has moved far along to meet the people’s demands and we urge it to release all political prisoners who were taken before and after Jan 25 revolution. Only then will we call off the protests.”

The Higher Military Council also issued a warning against anyone who creates “chaos and disorder”, an army source said. It will also ban meetings by labour unions or professional syndicates, effectively forbidding strikes, and tell all Egyptians to get back to work after 18 days of unrest.

Hundreds of soldiers shoved pro-democracy protesters aside to force a path for traffic to start flowing through central Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Sunday for the first time in more than two weeks.

Earlier in the day troops fired warning shots and scuffles broke out when policemen protested to restore their reputation and win pay rises after they found themselves on the wrong side of the uprising.

One policeman’s teeth were smashed in during the fight with soldiers outside the interior ministry, where around 1,500 members of the force called for the despised former interior minister Habib al-Adly to be publicly executed.

Troops had fired over the heads of the protesters, some of whom were in police uniform, as the crowd chanted at their former boss: “Habib, you know you will be executed in the public square!”

The police are broadly despised and seen as brutal and corrupt, while the military has been embraced by the anti-regime protesters.

But the police protesting on Sunday insisted that they had been ordered to deal harshly with the protests and were underpaid by their government masters.

Sunday’s cabinet meeting came a day after the resignation of the highly unpopular information minister Anas al-Fiki, who was allegedly behind a media campaign that presented the protesters as foreign agents.

Fiki, Adly and sacked prime minister Ahmed Nazif have all been banned from leaving the country while they are investigated over graft allegations.

The dissolution of Mubarak’s regime was reflected in the empty space outside the cabinet chamber where his portrait had hung for three decades.

Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq said, however, that Mubarak remained at his residence in the Sinai resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh.

Mubarak appointed the cabinet – made up mostly of veteran military men – in the opening days of the revolt in a failed bid to appease the protesters.

Tantawi on Sunday met new Interior Minister Mahmud Wagdy, in order to get the police back on the streets as quickly as possible.

In the meantime, military police were directing cars through Tahrir Square, the epicentre of the revolt.

Hundreds of thousands of people who had occupied the emblematic square had returned home by Sunday.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 14th, 2011.


a ercelan | 10 years ago | Reply do hope it wont become Zia's Cancel my Last Announcement!
sattar | 10 years ago | Reply there are talks of Egypt style revolution in Pakistan. But i dont see that happening because we have freedom of speech in our media and an elected government which will be completing its term in two years. The revolution should come in next elections when voters should behave responsibly and elect people who have good credentials and a clean track record.
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