Egypt protest calls largely unheeded

2016-11-12 14:00
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Cairo - Egyptian police quashed a few small protests across the country on Friday and arrested hundreds of protesters as calls for an uprising against the rising prices largely went unheeded.

Police rounded up at least 325 protesters across the country, a security official said.

In Cairo, where police had deployed in force in anticipation of protests, 70 alleged demonstrators were arrested.

Police also quickly scattered several dozen protesters who assembled in the port city of Suez.

There had been calls on social media, backed by the banned Muslim Brotherhood opposition group, for protests on Friday against rising prices and President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Ahead of Friday, the interior ministry had announced the arrests of alleged Brotherhood members planning violence on the day.

Unlicensed protests had been banned in Egypt after the military overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013 and cracked down on his followers.

Previous governments 

Clashes between security forces and pro-Morsi protesters in the following months killed hundreds of his supporters, and thousands have been jailed.

Meanwhile, a jihadist insurgency has killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers, and also targeted tourists, further battering the country's economy.

After months of a dollar crunch that caused a slump in imports, Egypt last week floated the pound, drastically depreciating its value.

Inflation, currently at 14%, is expected to rise.

The government said the move, part of an austerity programme in tandem with a $12 billion IMF loan, could no longer be postponed.

The IMF approved the three-year loan Friday, and said it would release $2.75 billion immediately, with further disbursements dependent on economic performance and the implementation of reforms.

Previous governments in Cairo had been wary of austerity measures, fearing they could spark unrest.

But many Egyptians are weary after years of tumult in which the country saw two presidents deposed, and have little appetite for more protests.

Read more on:    mohammed morsi  |  abdel fattah al-sisi  |  egypt  |  egypt protests  |  north africa

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