Tantawi makes concessions whilst protesters want him out
Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi appeared on Egyptian television last night promising that presidential elections would be held by June 2012. This date is much earlier than previously indicated by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) which had been talking about a handover in 2013.
The Field Marshall also went on to say that “The army is ready to go back to barracks immediately if the people wish that through a popular referendum, if need be.” Again a major concession to protesters who have once more occupied Tahrir Square in the centre of Cairo along with other towns and cities across the country.
The protesters immediately rejected the concessions saying that they were delaying tactics. Core to the problem is a supra-constitutional document which, if accepted, would place the armed forces above the law. In addition to the dumping of this document the protesters also want to see the SCAF replaced with a civilian government immediately, they want the resignation of Tantawi and they want an end to human rights abuses.
A report published by Amnesty International suggests that things have worsened in Egypt since the fall of Hosni Mubarak. In a press release Amnesty International say that “Egypt’s military rulers have completely failed to live up to their promises to Egyptians to improve human rights and have instead been responsible for a catalogue of abuses which in some cases exceeds the record of Hosni Mubarak”.
The full report can be found here: http://www.amnesty.org.uk/uploads/documents/doc_22167.pdf
This morning the protesters were still occupying the square and pitch battles were taking place with security forces.
The concessions delivered by the SCAF leader last night were reminiscent of the concessions given by Hosni Mubarak earlier this year. Eventually the sheer weight of the protests along with the army siding with protesters forced him to leave. This time the armed forces are prepared to use tear gas and rubber bullets which suggests that many more casualties will be sustained, although there are signs that elements in the army are unhappy with the situation.