Egypt’s youth welcome premier’s speech, but will keep protesting

2011-07-12 09:08

Cairo – Egypt’s April 6 Youth Movement today welcomed a speech by Prime Minister Essam Sharaf, but vowed not to leave Cairo’s Tahrir Square, where protests have continued for five consecutive days.

The group, which organised and called the sit-in to put pressure on the government and the country’s military rulers, said Sharaf’s speech reflects the aspirations of protesters.

They said it has laid down the basis for holding “public and swift” trials for officials and policemen involved in a deadly crackdown on pro-democracy protesters earlier this year.

At least 846 people were killed in the uprising and more than 6 000 injured, leaving many with permanent disabilities.

Sharaf, whose government has been criticised for allegedly dragging its feet on prosecuting former president Hosni Mubarak and officials of the former regime, said the government will be reshuffled within a week.

In his televised speech late yesterday, Sharaf also announced a reshuffle of governors before the end of July, and ordered the interior minister to exclude policemen thought to be involved in shooting at protesters.

However, April 6 spokesman Mohamed Adel said the speech failed to address points of replacing the current attorney-general, banning members of the former ruling party from taking part in the coming elections as well as setting a timetable for enforcing a minimum wage.

They are also calling for guarantees from the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which has been running the country since Mubarak was ousted, that they will not object or interfere in choosing the new ministers.

They are also pressing for halting military trials for civilians.

April 6 rejects having an interior minister who comes from the military, and is demanding instead a “civilian” minister.

Activists at Tahrir Square remained dubious about how quickly Sharaf’s promises would be carried out, and called on the prime minister to resign and join them in their open-ended strike.

Protesters have been calling for a Cabinet reshuffle, citing either the ministers’ links to the Mubarak regime or the slow pace of reform in their respective ministries.

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