The Egyptian army has said it
would not use force against
citizens staging protests to force
President Hosni Mubarak to step
In a statement on Monday it said
"freedom of expression" was
guaranteed to all citizens using
It was the first such explicit
confirmation by the army that it
would not fire at demonstrators
who have taken to the streets of
Egypt and comes a day before
before Tuesday's "march of
millions" to mark the seventh day
of the protests as anti-
government sentiment reaches
"The presence of the army in the
streets is for your sake and to
ensure your safety and
wellbeing. The armed forces will
not resort to use of force against
our great people," the army
"Your armed forces, who are
aware of the legitimacy of your
demands and are keen to
assume their responsibility in
protecting the nation and the
citizens, affirms that freedom of
expression through peaceful
means is guaranteed to
It urged people not to resort to
acts of sabotage that violate
security and destroy public and
private property. It warned that it
would not allow outlaws to loot,
attack and "terrorise citizens".
Protesters have called for a
massive demonstration and a
rolling general strike on Tuesday.
The so-called April 6 Movement
said it plans to have more
than one million people on the
streets of the capital Cairo.
The call came as Mubarak swore
in a new cabinet in an attempt
to defuse ongoing
demonstrations across the
Omar Suleiman, Egypt's new vice
president, said on Monday that
Mubarak had tasked him with
opening "immediate" dialogue
with the opposition "around all
the issues concerning
constitutional and legislative
He said steps were underway to
implement decisions of the
appeals court contesting results
of autumn legislative elections in
However, members of the
opposition in the Egyptian
capital told our correspondent
they reject the offer of dialogue.
"They say it isn't an issue of a
different approach from
Mubarak, they just don't want
Mubarak," he said.
"They are saying they don't want
to enter dialogue with Mubarak
or Omar Suleiman, they say
they've been in that dialogue for
the past 30 years and it has been
one way. They don't want
anything to do with him. They
demand he steps down."
Up to 250,000 people are
continuing to demonstrate in
Cairo's Tahrir square after
hundreds remained camped out
overnight, defying a curfew that
has been extended by the army.
There is a heavy army presence
around the area, with tanks
positioned near the square and
officers checking identity papers.
One of Al Jazeera's
correspondents said military
attempts to block access to the
square on Monday by closing
roads was not working as more
people were arriving in a steady
"Protesters say they'll stay in this
square for as long as Mubarak
stays in power," she said.
Protesters seem unfazed by
Mubarak's pledge to institute
economic and political reforms.
Our correspondent said people
feel that such pledges "are too
little, too late".
Al Jazeera reporters in Cairo also
said police had been seen
returning to the streets, directing
traffic, after being absent since
"We are waiting for the minister
of interior to announce in what
form they are going to come
back onto the streets and why
they disappeared after Friday
prayers, on the 'second day of
rage'," one correspondent said.
"The absence of police has given
looters a free rein, forcing
ordinary citizens to set up
neighbourhood patrols. Many
people are wondering where the
police disappeared to.
"There are two schools of
thought as far as the police are
concerned: One is that many of
them decided to join the
"The other is that the regime was
saying to the people, 'You want
to protest. We'll pull back the
police and you feel what anarchy
feels like'," our correspondent
After deadly clashes in which
around 125 people were killed in
Cairo and other cities, protesters
complained that police were
using excessive force.
But an Al Jazeera correspondent
said some locals greeted police
as "long-lost friends" on Monday.
"It's almost as if the population
of Cairo is suffering from
selective amnesia ... We saw one
small boy carrying a tray a of tea
to a group of policemen. Another
man got out of his car, kissed
and hugged the policemen."
Panic and chaos
Meanwhile, many people are
reported to be panic buying in
Cairo amid the unrest.
"I walked into a supermarket and
saw complete mayhem," an Al
Jazeera correspondent said.
"People are stocking up on
supplies as much as they can.
There are very few rations
available in the stores. They are
running out of basic supplies,
like eggs, cheese and meat.
Deliveries have not been coming
Chaos has also been reported at
Cairo's international airport,
where thousands of foreigners
are attempting to be evacuated
by their home countries.
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.