Protesters furious at army backing for Mubarak

2011-02-11 12:47

Cairo – Egyptian demonstrators reacted with fury today after the military threw its weight behind President Mubarak’s attempt to cling on to power despite massive nationwide protests.

At the same time as a statement was read out on state television, an army colonel read out the same message – in which the military high command endorsed Mubarak’s reform plans – in front of Mubarak’s palace in Cairo.

Protesters gathered outside the palace, many of whom had hoped the military would intervene to chase the 82-year-old strongman from office, erupted angrily and one grabbed the officer’s microphone to denounce the move.

“You have disappointed us, all our hopes rested in you,” he shouted, as the crowd began to chant slogans calling for Mubarak to be put on trial.

“No, no, this is not a coup,” the colonel protested, insisting that the army would not take power itself, but would work to ensure that the popular will was reflected in the civilian regime’s programme.

In central Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the epicentre of the revolt, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators had already begun Friday prayers when the statement was released, and were not already aware of its contents.

But they spent the morning chanting for the army to join them in opposing the regime, and their disappointment was likely to be as great as the previous night when they had been dismayed by Mubarak’s refusal to resign.

The sheikh leading the prayers fainted towards the end of his sermon, but not before he had called on the army to “act in a way that will be acceptable to God on Judgment Day”.

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