Monday, January 31, 2011


Mohamed ElBaradei, a leading
opposition figure, has joined
thousands of protesters in
Cairo's Tahrir Square, in
continued demonstrations
demanding an end to President
Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule.
The former head of the
International Atomic Energy
Agency told the crowd on Sunday
night that "what we have begun
cannot go back" referring to
days of anti-government
The National Coalition for Change,
which groups several opposition
movements including the Muslim
Brotherhood, wants ElBaradei to negotiate
with the Mubarak government.
"The people want the regime to
fall," protesters chanted as
ElBaradei walked to the centre of
the square, holding hands with
some demonstrators.
The show of continued defiance
by the people came on a day
when air force fighter planes
flew low over Cairo along
with helicopters and extra troop
lorries appeared in the central
As the protests continue, security
is said to be deteriorating and
reports have emerged of several
prisons across the country being
attacked and of fresh protests
being staged in cities like
Alexandria and Suez.
Thirty-four leaders from the
Muslim Brotherhood were freed
from the Wadi Natroun jail after
guards abandoned their posts.
The protesters in Cairo, joined by
hundreds of judges, had
collected again in Tahrir Square
in the afternoon to demand the
resignation of Hosni Mubarak.
Al Jazeera's correspondent,
reporting from the scene, said
that demonstrators confronted a
fire truck, at which point army
troops fired into the air in a bid
to disperse them.
He said the protesters did not
move back, and a tank
commander then ordered the
fire truck to leave. When the
truck moved away from the
square, the thousands of
protesters erupted into applause
and climbed onto the tank in
celebration, hugging soldiers.
Main roads in Cairo have been
blocked by military tanks and
armoured personnel carriers,
and large numbers of army
personnel have been seen in
other cities as well.
Reporting from Cairo earlier on
Sunday, an Al Jazeera
correspondent said it was a
"long way from business as
usual" in the Egyptian capital on
the first working day since
protests peaked on Friday.
He said that extra military
roadblocks had been set up in an
apparent attempt to divert traffic
away from Tahrir Square, which
has become a focal point for
"It's still a very tense scene to
have so much military in the
capital city of the country."
Earlier in the morning, another
correspondent reported that the
city appeared deserted in the
early hours.
"The streets are very dirty, there
is debris everywhere. The police
have just disappeared. Any
security at this stage is in the
hands of the army."
Al Jazeera's correspondents in
the port city of Alexandria have
also said that anti-government
protests have begun there, with
hundreds of people on the
Security situation
The security situation in the
capital prompted the country's
interior minister to hold
meetings with top officials on
Habib al Adli met Mohamed
Hussein Tantawi, the defence
minister, and vice president
Omar Soliman, state television
As the police withdrew from
streets across Egypt, Adli has
been the target of growing
criticism by the protesters who
have called on him to resign.
The absence of police has given
looters a free rein, forcing
ordinary citizens to set up
neighbourhood patrols.
However, police are expected to
return to the streets two days
after they viirtually disappeared.
Sources told Reuters news
agency that police would return
to traffic, criminal and
other duties but would not be
sent in to confront protesters,
with whom they often clashed
violently in the first days of the
protests. The army were ordered
in on Friday.
According to Dina Magdi, an
eyewitness, unidentified men on
Sunday morning came out of the
interior ministry compound in a
car and dumped a body on a
street. They then opened fire on
people present in the area and
fled. There were no immediate
reports of casualties in that
Al Jazeera's sources have
indicated that the military has
now also been deployed to the
resort town of Sharm el Shaikh.
Sherine Tadros, Al Jazeera's
correspondent in the city of Suez,
said the city had witnessed a
"completely chaotic night", but
that the streets were quiet as day
She reported that in the absence
of police and military, people
were "tak[ing] the law into their
own hands", using "clubs,
batons, sticks, machetes
[and] knives" to protect their
"People are trying to get back to
normal, but of course this is
anything but," she said, adding
that as the day wore on, the
military had set up several
checkposts in an attempt to
"show people that they are here
and ... will provide some kind of
Rawya Rageh, our correspondent
in Alexandria, reported similar
scenes, saying that people were
particularly concerned about
their personal safety and that of
their property.
She reported that the military in
Alexandria was not focusing on
protesters, attempting instead to
prevent any further damage or
theft of property.
Anti-Mubarak protests have
engulfed Middle East's most
populous nation since last
Tuesday. More than 150 people
have been killed in the unrest.
On Saturday, an embattled
Mubarak sacked his cabinet and
appointed a vice-president and a
new prime minister. But the
move has failed to douse anger
on the streets
As international powers express
concern regarding events in
Egypt, the US state
department has reduced its
diplomatic presence in Egypt,
saying it had authorised the
voluntary departure of
dependents of diplomats and
non-essential workers.

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