Protesters return to Cairo’s Tahrir on vote eve

2011-03-18 12:52

Pro-democracy activists who spearheaded mass rallies that ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak staged a new protest today on the eve of a referendum on the military’s transition plans.

Some 500 people gathered in Tahrir Square, scene of the weeks of demonstrations that brought Mubarak down, shouting “down with the constitution” and “the people want a new constitution”.

The Coalition of the Youth of the Revolution called the rally to urge voters to reject an amended constitution intended to underpin fresh presidential and parliamentary elections this year and a swift return to civilian rule.

The military council, which took over when Mubarak quit on February 11, said it would not try to stop the rally even though a ban on all media analysis or opinion pieces on the referendum came into force this morning and was to last until the close of polls at 7pm South African time tomorrow.

The young activists, along with a string of secular political parties and opposition figures, said the timetable being set by the military was way too tight for movements stymied by three decades of authoritarian rule to organise grass-roots support.

They also argued the package of amendments, hastily drawn up by the panel in just 10 days, did not go nearly far enough in overhauling the Mubarak-era charter, which they said needed to be completely rewritten.

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