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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Egyptian military dissolves parliament

CAIRO — Egypt’s military disbanded the country’s parliament and suspended the constitution on Sunday, saying it will rule for six months or until presidential and parliamentary elections are held, according to a statement by the military council read on state television.

The announcement, which came two days after the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, met some of the demands of anti-government protesters who for nearly three weeks demonstrated against Mubarak and the parliament, demanding constitutional reforms.

Parliamentary elections held in November were considered fraudulent and marred by mass arrests, pressure on independent candidates, news-media harassment and a boycott by some opposition groups. Last week, in the final days of Mubarak’s rule, hundreds gathered in front of the parliament building in addition to the thousands in Tahrir Square.

The army appeared to have left in place the Cabinet, which is running the country.

Earlier Sunday, the army began to clear Tahrir Square, the center of the protests, tearing down tents and opening it to traffic.

The dozens of soldiers in olive fatigues and red berets surrounded the one remaining stage for protesters, while cars honked and drove around the city hub for the first time since Jan. 25, when people erupted in rage against Mubarak. It was a further sign of the military’s determination to restore the nation’s capital to normal.

The popular uprising shut down Egypt’s economy, sparked fighting and froze activity in downtown Cairo, home to the government and major businesses.

Scores of soldiers fanned out into the remaining tent cities on the square and tore them down. The families and young people, who had been squatting, largely complied and accepted that Tahrir Square no longer belonged to them. The soldiers dismantled the plastic tarps and walked among papers, trash and a child’s lost teddy bear. One teenager shoved and pushed at the soldiers and cried at having to leave.

One protester who was evicted warned that the army will never meet the Egyptians’ demands for more democracy and an end to decades-long emergency decrees if the demonstrators surrendered Tahrir Square.

“”We don’t want to leave,”” said Mohammed Shaheen. “”They’ll never give up the emergency laws. And they’ll use them to put people in jail.””

As the campers watched the army clear the square, a parade of police and ordinary Egyptians materialized like a flash flood. The police were raised on people’s shoulders and waved Egyptian flags.

“”The police and army are one,”” they chanted. The policemen pumped their fists and converged with the protesters’ stage. “”God is great, God is great,”” the two groups roared, while cars beeped and inched forward, as if nothing unusual had happened.

Some responded in anger at the police. One young man tried to charge them. “”The police killed us! Don’t believe them,”” he shouted before a group pulled him back.

Others looked on, bemused. Tahrir Square was slowly returning to normal. They believed the people had won.

“”We are taking our freedom,”” said Wael Mustafa. He smiled at the soldiers, protesters, police and cars bumper to bumper. He predicted that if the army didn’t keep its word, “”the people will come back.””

But he was sure better days were coming.

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