'Egyptian PM asks protesters for 2 months'

Ganzouri tells "Al Shorouk" he will try to add representatives from among young demonstrators to government.

November 26, 2011 09:47
2 minute read.
Egyptian Prime Minister Kamal Ganzouri

Egyptian Prime Minister Kamal Ganzouri 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout)


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Newly appointed Egyptian Prime Minister Kamal Ganzouri urged demonstrators in Tahrir Square to grant him two months to fulfill their demands, in an interview with the Al-Shorouk daily on Saturday morning.

Referring to progress being made towards forming a government, Ganzouri said that he will try to include representatives from among the young protesters.

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Ganzouri told Al-Shorouk that the unprecedented power given to the government and prime minister will allow the government head "to solve the crisis in a direct manner."

Protesters demanding an end to army rule clashed with police firing tear gas near Egypt's parliament building on Saturday in a flare-up that cast another shadow over a parliamentary election billed as the nation's first free vote in decades.

Protesters said one man, Ahmed Sayed, 21, died after being hit by a state security vehicle. His death was the first since a truce between police and demonstrators on Thursday calmed violence that had killed 41 people in Cairo and elsewhere.

Egypt's Interior Ministry said the vehicle had hit him by accident.

Hundreds of demonstrators camped overnight in Cairo's Tahrir Square ahead of the election, due to start on Monday in Cairo, Alexandria and some other areas.

The clash occurred after one group marched to parliament to protest against the army's appointment of 78-year-old Kamal Ganzouri, a premier under Hosni Mubarak, as new prime minister.

"Down, down with the marshal," a group chanted in the square, near tents set up on grassy patches. They were referring to Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, who heads the ruling army council and was also Mubarak's defence minister.

Tens of thousands gathered on Friday to demand the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces speed up a transition to democracy which they believe requires the generals to leave power now.

The political turmoil and violence are compounding the economic woes of a country where livelihoods have been hit by a year of turmoil after Mubarak was toppled.

The generals have shown no sign of giving way to the demand to quit now. Instead, they have responded by promising that a new president would be elected by mid-2012, sooner than previously announced, and appointing Ganzouri, 78, to head a "national salvation government".

Speaking to the media on Friday, Ganzouri described his task as thankless and "extremely difficult" and listed his priorities as securing the streets and reviving the economy. Egypt's pound has weakened to its lowest level in seven years.

The Tahrir protesters have dismissed Ganzouri, premier from 1996 to 1999, as another face from the past whose appointment reflects the generals' resistance to change.

"Why are they picking Ganzouri now? This shows that the army is unwilling to let go of any power by recycling a former ally. This government won't have any powers, why else pick someone that is loyal to them?" asked protester Mohamed El Meligy, 20.

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