Protesters in Cairo square pile pressure on army

Thousands of Egyptian demonstrators frustrated with pace of corruption crackdown pack Tahrir Square demanding Mubarak prosecution.

By REUTERS
April 8, 2011 20:58
2 minute read.
Protesters wave Egyptian flags during a protest

Egyptian protests (Reuters) 311. (photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El-Ghany)

 
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CAIRO - Protesters packed Cairo's Tahrir Square on Friday, piling pressure on the ruling military council to meet demands including the prosecution of Hosni Mubarak in one of the biggest demonstrations since he was ousted.

Thousands of people waved red, white and black Egyptian flags in scenes reminiscent of the height of the uprising that helped ignite protests against autocrats across the Arab world.

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By afternoon, at least 200,000 people were crammed into Tahrir Square, the main theater for the demonstrations that swept Mubarak from power, leaving in charge the army led by Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi.

"Tantawi, Tantawi get your act together or do you want a pool of blood?" chanted some of the protesters, expressing frustration over the pace of reform.

The military has enjoyed broad support since it took control of the country on Feb. 11, but complaints against its rule are growing. Attention is now focused on the perceived tardiness of legal measures against Mubarak and his entourage.

Mubarak and his family have been living in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh since he left Cairo. The military has said the 82-year-old president, himself a former military officer, is banned from leaving the country.

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The public prosecutor, who has filed charges against some but not all of the Mubarak-era officials, was also the focus of anger. Protesters declared him "the sleeping prosecutor". One activist group declared the demonstration "The Friday of Purification and Accountability".

Lawyers and judges held a mock trial for Mubarak and some of his closest associates on charges of "corrupting Egypt politically and economically, committing crimes of torture and stripping us of our rights".

A military helicopter hovered over the city center as protesters poured into the square after Friday prayers to support demands including the removal of remaining Mubarak-era officials, such as the powerful provincial governors.

"It's a strong message that the revolution is not over yet and is still going on and will not quieten down before its goals are realized," said Hassan Nafaa, a professor of political science and a prominent figure in the reform movement.

The protest drew an array of Egyptians, from leftists to Islamists including the Muslim Brotherhood, a group considered Egypt's best-organized political force.

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