Egypt’s Military Warns Protesters Against Disruptions

Posted July 12th, 2011 at 2:40 pm (UTC-5)
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Egypt's ruling military council has warned opposition protesters not to “deviate from peaceful means” as they stage sit-ins in Cairo and other cities to demand quicker political reforms.

Major General Mohsen el-Fangari read a statement on state television Tuesday, urging Egyptians to “confront” anyone who causes disruptions and harms the public interest.

It was the military council's strongest warning to reformists since they set up a tent camp in Cairo's Tahrir Square last Friday, blocking roads and the entrance to a government building.

Hundreds of activists have been camping at the square since then, refusing to leave until their demands are met and threatening to expand their protest to other parts of Cairo. Anti-government activists also have staged sit-ins in the cities of Alexandria and Suez.

Earlier Tuesday, about 30 men armed with knives and sticks stormed the tent camp in Tahrir Square, wounding several people before the protesters forced them out.

The reformists want Egypt's military council to move faster in purging and prosecuting government officials and police loyal to autocratic former President Hosni Mubarak, whom they ousted in a popular uprising in February.

An Egyptian court convicted three Mubarak-era Cabinet members of corruption on Tuesday, including former prime minister Ahmed Nazif, who received a one-year suspended sentence.

Former interior minister Habib el-Adly was given a five-year jail term and former finance minister Youssef Boutros-Ghali was sentenced in absentia to 10 years.

El-Adly already is serving a 12-year jail term after being convicted in a separate corruption case earlier this year.

Egypt's military-appointed Prime Minister Essam Sharaf also has offered several concessions to the protesters in recent days. Tuesday, he accepted the resignation of Deputy Prime Minister Yahya el-Gamal, after reformists said he should be removed.

He also pledged Monday to reshuffle his Cabinet within a week. But, that pledge drew a dismissive response from Cairo protesters who said it lacked guarantees and detail.

The military council expressed support for the prime minister Tuesday and reiterated its commitment to hand over power to a “legitimate civilian government” following parliamentary and presidential elections.