CAIRO - Thousands of protesters gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Friday to press the ruling army to speed up the transfer of power to civilian rule, and an Islamist leader said his followers would stage a sit-in if the army does not respond.
Egypt's army assumed control after an uprising ousted President Hosni Mubarak on Feb. 11, promising to transfer power to an elected civilian government within six months.
But the top generals now say they could remain in power until presidential elections are held at the end of 2012 or early 2013, citing an extended timetable of parliamentary elections and a six-month period to write the new constitution.
Floating in the square were banners accusing the ruling military council's leader, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, of trying to hold onto power.
"The people demand the fall of the Field Marshal" and "Whether in uniform or in boxers, we do not want army rule" chanted Islamists, mainly Salafists who follow strict Islamic teachings, and ordinary Egyptians.