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Protests continue in Egypt

Tens of thousands are expected in Tahrir square today, as men, women and children head for the area to continue protests over the Egyptian military’s continuing role in government.

Since the new unrest began, over 40 people have died as a result of the fresh demonstrations. These deaths led the European Union (EU) to condemn the “excessive violence” used to handle protestors. And in her news briefing, the EU’s foreign policy spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic called on the Egyptian authorities to make “a swift handover to civilian government” and ensure any democratic transition is “transparent, fair and accountable”. The United States has also urged Egypt’s military to step down from involvement in the country’s governance “as soon as possible”.

In a statement earlier this week, the human rights group Amnesty International said that the hopes of protestors had been “crushed” with the violent crackdown on protestors in Tahrir square. And the group expressed concern over the thousands of civilians who had been tried by military courts since the uprising and about the extension of emergency law in Egypt. Amnesty likened the military response to protestors as “brutal and heavy-handed” and said it bore “all the hallmarks of the Mubarak era”. The Egyptian military has apologised for the loss of life among the protestors, saying it regretted “the deaths of martyrs from among Egypt’s loyal sons”.

With parliamentary elections due to begin in Egypt on Monday, not all sections of Egyptian society are unhappy with the process set out by the military. In Cairo’s Abbassiya district, around 5,000 demonstrators gathered to wave Egyptian flags in support of the military council rulers. Some expressed the view that the young activists around Tahrir square are only interested in causing trouble. And members of parties who have fielded political candidates, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, want Monday’s elections to go ahead peacefully.

However, in interviews, some of the protestors express doubts that the election process will be fair and fully accountable. They want nothing less than the removal of the military council from all government decisions. Reuters spoke to one father, who had come with his daughters to Tahrir square for the first time. He told the news agency “nine months have gone by with many things that have happened in a way opposite to what the revolutionaries wanted”. Like all those gathered in the square, the father of two expressed his desire for the military council to hand over to civilian authorities from now onwards.

Laurinda Luffman signature