Monday, January 31, 2011

Egypt military promises no force against protests

Hosni Mubarak - World Economic Forum on the Mi...Image by World Economic Forum via Flickrhttp://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110131/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_egypt
CAIRO – Egypt's military promised Monday not to fire on any peaceful protests and recognized "the legitimacy of the people's demands," a sign army support for President Hosni Mubarak may be unraveling. Protesters planned a major escalation, calling for a million people to take to the streets to push Mubarak out of power.
More than 10,000 people beat drums, played music and chanted slogans in Tahrir Square, which has become ground zero of seven days of protests demanding the ouster of the 82-year-old president who has ruled with an authoritarian hand for nearly three decades.
With the organizers' calling for a march by one million people Tuesday, the vibe in the sprawling plaza — whose name in Arabic means "Liberation" — was intensifying with the feeling that the upheaval was nearing a decisive point. "He only needs a push," was one of the most frequent chants, and one leaflet circulated by some protesters said it was time for the military to choose between Mubarak and the people.
The latest gesture by Mubarak aimed at defusing the crisis fell flat. His top ally, the United States, roundly rejected his announcement of a new government Monday that dropped his interior minister, who heads police forces and was widely denounced by the protesters. The crowds in the streets were equally unimpressed.
"It's almost the same government, as if we are not here, as if we are sheep," sneered one protester, Khaled Bassyouny, a 30-year-old Internet entrepreneur. He said it was time to escalate the marches. "It has to burn. It has to become ugly. We have to take it to the presidential palace."
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