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Protesters In Cairo Renew Demand That Military Rulers Step Aside

Protesters chanted slogans during clashes with Egyptian riot police near Tahrir Square in Cairo earlier today (Nov. 22, 2011).
Khalil Hamra
Protesters chanted slogans during clashes with Egyptian riot police near Tahrir Square in Cairo earlier today (Nov. 22, 2011).

There's word from Cairo that Egypt's military leaders have agreed to hold presidential elections by the middle of next year and to start parliamentary elections on time next week.

Al-Jazeera reported just before 11 a.m. ET that "details of a pending announcement by the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces have begun to emerge. Abou Elela Mady, the head of the moderate Islamist Wasat Party, who attended a crisis meeting with the SCAF and other parties, said that the SCAF has agreed to form a national salvation government and hold presidential elections before July."

Reuters reports that "Emad Abdel Ghafour, head of ultra-conservative Nour (Light) party," said the military has confirmed that parliamentary elections will start on schedule next Monday.

Also just in, an alert from The Associated Press saying "Egyptian politician: Ruling military accepts resignation of government."

As we reported Monday, Minister Essam Sharaf and his cabinet submitted their resignations to the military council following several days of protests in Cairo by Egyptians demanding that a transition to civilian government get going.

Moves to hold parliamentary elections this month and a presidential election by July are seen as key steps in the process of handing control over from the military council to civilians.

The Associated Press sums up the latest developments this way: "Egyptian politicians say the ruling military has moved up the date for transferring power to a civilian government to July 1, 2012. ... Previously, the military rulers had floated late next year or early 2013 as the timetable for transferring power."

Update at 12:45 p.m. ET: Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the army chief, just went on state TV to confirm that the military council has accepted the interim government officials' resignations, is committed to holding parliamentary elections starting next week and is committed to a presidential election by next July. He insisted that military officials do not want to hold on to control.

But NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, who is in Cairo, tells our Newscast desk that as Tantawi was finishing his address the protesters in Tahrir Square shouted their disapproval and repeated their demand that a transition to civilian rule happen sooner rather than later. She says there were jeers and chants of "leave, leave."

Our original post — "Crowd Gathering Again In Cairo, But Outside Square Life Is Normal":

There's another mass rally underway in Cairo's Tahrir Square — where four straight days of anti-military rule protests have turned violent and led to about 30 deaths and thousands of injuries as government forces responded with force.

As The Associated Press writes, "the two sides have been engaged in intense clashes since the unrest began on Saturday with protesters trying to force out the generals who have failed to stabilize the country, salvage the economy or bring democracy more than nine months after taking the reins from former President Hosni Mubarak."

Today's gathering, NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports from the scene, appears to be the largest since the Arab Spring protests back in January and February. Organizers are calling today's protest a "million man march." She's seeing clouds of tear gas rising above the square. And there are already reports of injuries.

There is one key difference between what's happening now and what happened earlier this year, though, Soraya adds. "Outside of the square and the side streets, life is continuing," she says. "There are people who are going to work and going about their daily business only a few hundred feet from where this is playing out." There is no curfew in the city.

Update at 8:50 a.m. ET: We've taken two audio clips from her report for the NPR Newscast desk and put them together in one file (separated by a short recording of some crowd noise). Our apologies if you're reading this post on a device that doesn't show our audio player.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Memmott
Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.