Egypt’s cabinet resigns as clashes continue

Ruling military council seeks new PM before accepting cabinet resignation; police continue to clash with protesters, as tens of thousands pack Tahrir Square, demanding to end army rule


Egypt‘s military council sought an agreement on a new prime minister before it could accept the resignation submitted by the cabinet of Prime Minister Essam Sharaf, a military source told Reuters on Monday.


The source said no formal announcement would be made until the ruling military council had agreed on the candidate. He did not provide further details.

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The cabinet had said it had presented its resignation on Sunday, following violent clashes in Cairo’s Tahrir square between police and protesters.


Meanwhile, Cairo police continued to fight protesters demanding an end to army rule for a third day on Monday and morgue officials said the death toll had risen to 33, with many victims shot in the worst violence since the uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak.




Protesters have brandished bullet casings in the square, where police moved in with batons and tear gas on Saturday against a protest then dominated by Islamists but since driven by young people with secular aims. Police denied using live fire.


Medical sources at Cairo’s main morgue said 33 corpses had been received there since Saturday, most of them with bullet wounds. At least 1,250 people have been wounded, a Health Ministry source said.
מכונית עולה באש ליד כיכר א-תחריר, היום (צילום: AP)

Vehicle on fire in Cairo (Photo: AP)


„I’ve seen the police beat women my mother’s age. I want military rule to end,” said protester Mohamed Gamal, 21.


Army generals were feted for their part in easing Mubarak out, but hostility to their rule has hardened since, especially over attempts to set new constitutional principles that would keep the military permanently beyond civilian control.


Police attacked a makeshift hospital in the square after dawn on Monday but were driven back by protesters hurling chunks of concrete from smashed pavements, witnesses said.
הכיכר המרכזית בבירת מצרים, היום. מרביצים גם לנשים (צילום: EPA)

Crowds gather in Tahrir Square (Photo: EPA)


„Don’t go out there, you’ll end up martyrs like the others,” protesters told people emerging from a metro station at Tahrir Square.


Cloud over election

The violence casts a pall over the first round of voting in Egypt’s staggered and complex election process, which starts on November 28 in Cairo and elsewhere. The army said earlier that the polls will go ahead, but the unrest could deter voters in the capital.


In an apparent sop to protesters, the army council issued a law to bar from political life „those who work to corrupt political life and damage the interests of the nation”.
עשן ברחובות הבירה. משרד הפנים על הכוונת (צילום: EPA)

Smoke in the streets of Cairo (Photo: EPA)


The announcement was unlikely to satisfy political parties and activists who have called for a blanket ban on former members of Mubarak’s now defunct National Democratic Party.


„This is a meaningless move by the military council. In fact this is a slap in the face of protesters and those who died to demand freedom and respect,” said activist Mohamed Fahmy. „The council is out of step with the people.”



Some Egyptians, including Islamists who expect to do well in the vote, said the ruling army council may be stirring insecurity to prolong its rule, a charge the military denies.


German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said violence must end. „This is quite evidently an attempt to thwart a democratic transition process,” he said.


Political uncertainty has gripped Egypt since Mubarak’s fall, while sectarian clashes, labor unrest, gas pipeline sabotage and a gaping absence of tourists have paralyzed the economy and prompted a widespread yearning for stability.