Egyptian Activists Block Roads, Govt. Building in Cairo

Posted July 10th, 2011 at 4:00 pm (UTC-5)
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Hundreds of Egyptian reformists have disrupted traffic in central Cairo and blocked access to the capital's main government building in a third day of protests against the country's military rulers.

After spending a second night in a tent camp in Cairo's Tahrir Square, the activists blocked surrounding roads and formed a picket line outside the adjacent Mogamma administrative complex on Sunday.

The activists began their sit-in on Friday as part of nationwide mass protests demanding quicker prosecutions of security personnel accused of killing protesters during the February uprising that ousted President Hosni Mubarak. The demonstrators also want an end to prosecutions of civilians in military courts, and speedier trials for Mubarak-era officials charged with corruption.

The reformists accuse the military council that has led Egypt since February of being reluctant to cleanse the government of Mubarak loyalists. The council is led by Mr. Mubarak's former defense minister, Field Marshall Mohamed Hussein Tantawi.

Egypt's military-appointed Prime Minister Essam Sharaf offered several gestures to the protesters in a nationally-televised speech Saturday. He said he ordered the suspension of all policemen accused of killing protesters and created a panel to speed up legal proceedings against the officers and officials suspected of corruption.

Many Egyptian reformists criticized Mr. Sharaf's speech as empty rhetoric and vowed to remain in Tahrir Square until their demands are met. Tahrir was the focal point of the much larger anti-Mubarak revolt that drew hundreds of thousands of people into Cairo's streets.

Elsewhere, hundreds of activists joined anti-government protests in Suez on Sunday, blocking roads that link the canal city to Cairo and nearby ports. Witnesses say Egyptian security personnel used batons to try to disperse the protesters, some of whom responded by throwing stones.

An Egyptian military spokesman told the official MENA news agency that one of the highways was later cleared and re-opened to traffic.