Egyptians rally to push for faster reforms, democratic transition

Arab World Materials 27 May 2011 16:13 (UTC +04:00)

Thousands of Egyptians gathered in central Cairo's Tahrir Square Friday, demanding the country's military rulers speed up the pace of democratic transition and reform and ensure faster trials of former officials for graft and abuse of power, DPA reported.

Protesters have dubbed the Friday rally as the "second revolution," to pressure the Supreme Council of Armed Forces, which has run the country since the ouster of former president Hosny Mubarak in February, to also put an end for the military trials for civilians.

"Do what you have to do and you will not find a single one of us here in Tahrir," an imam, addressing the government, told the crowd during his Friday sermon.

"The people will remain united," he added.

The sheikh criticized coverage by state-owned media of activists' demands and calls for rallies. He also criticized the slow pace in replacing the heads of universities appointed during Mubarak's regime.

The Armed Forces Council has warned that "suspicious elements were trying to sow strife between Egypt's people and the military" and said its forces will avoid locations of planned protests and will only be responsible for securing public properties and important sites.

"(I am) seriously concerned about absence of security forces to protect peaceful demonstrations: protection of 'rights' is a state responsibility," opposition figurehead and former UN nuclear watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei, wrote on his Twitter page.

Protesters also criticized the country's interim government and described them as "trembling hands" who were not able to take the right decisions.

Pictures of some of the 840 people killed during the January 25 uprising, which forced Mubarak to step down, were placed all over the square.

Activists have demanded revenge for the death of protesters, saying that speedier trials are needed for Mubarak and his aides.

Mubarak and his two sons, Alaa and Gamal, will be tried in a criminal court for alleged involvement in killing protesters and corruption.

Egypt's military has been credited with supporting the January 25 revolution, but it has also been criticized for using force against demonstrators afterwards.