Egypt to deploy troops ahead of strike

2012-02-09 07:41

Cairo - Egypt's ruling generals said on Wednesday they would deploy more soldiers and tanks across the country, an announcement seen as a warning to activists planning a national strike on the anniversary of the overthrow of president Hosni Mubarak.

Campaigners demanding a swifter transition to civilian rule have called for mass walkouts and civil disobedience on February 11.

At least fifteen people have already died in street fighting in Cairo and the eastern city of Suez in recent days, unrest provoked by the death of 74 people after a soccer match.

Egypt's ruling military council issued a statement saying it would send patrols across the country to "maintain the security ... of public, private and state buildings".

Lieutenant General Sami Enan, chief of staff of Egypt's armed forces, urged Egyptians to "protect the security and stability of the country through work and production", according to a report by state news agency MENA.

Egypt's prestigious seat of Sunni Muslim learning, al-Azhar, criticised the calls for civil disobedience, the state-owned al-Ahram news portal reported.

Egypt's Pope Shenouda, head of the Orthodox Coptic church, said civil disobedience was against religion, MENA said.

The head of the military council, Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, called earlier this week for a quick completion of plans for a presidential election, currently scheduled for June.

Some Egyptians accuse the army of blocking real reform of the security forces that enjoyed virtual impunity under Mubarak.