Cairo Simmers, Braces for ‘Million-Man’ Protest

Posted November 25th, 2011 at 5:10 am (UTC-5)
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Thousands of angry Egyptians are massing in Cairo's Tahrir Square, hoping to send a stark message to the country's ruling military council.

Organizers have called for a “million-man” march Friday to pressure the council to hand over control to a civilian government. Some protesters are even calling this the “last chance” for the council to do the right thing and quit.

Some of the more hard-core protesters say they have no plans to leave Tahrir Square until they get what they want.

In the meantime, the protesters are getting more vocal support from the United States.

The White House said Friday that Egypt's military rulers must speed up the country's transition to a civilian government.

Escalating violence between Egyptian civilians and security forces is now blamed for at least 35 deaths

Egyptian media said Thursday the country's military rulers have appointed former Prime Minister Kamal Ganzouri to form a new government after the previous civilian Cabinet of Prime Minister Essam Sharaf resigned.

State newspaper Al Ahram said on its website that Ganzouri agreed in principle to lead a national salvation government after meeting with the head of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces , Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi.

The council also insisted that parliamentary elections will go ahead as planned Monday, despite escalating violence that has left at least 35 people dead. After days of excusing the violent crackdown on demonstrators, the council reversed course Thursday and apologized for the deaths.

Meanwhile, thousands of Egyptian protesters and police observed a fragile truce Thursday, but the crowd remained in Cairo's Tahrir Square to press ahead with demands for the immediate resignation of the military leaders.

Major General Mukhtar el-Mallah, of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, said the move would amount to a “betrayal” of trust.

Separately, an Egyptian court Thursday ordered the release of three American students arrested during a protest in Cairo earlier this week.

Egyptian media said the Americans, who were students at the American University in Cairo, were detained along with other protesters while throwing petrol bombs at police.

In a statement Thursday, the U.S. State Department said Washington was working to independently confirm reports of the release and was in contact with the students' families.