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Egyptian army stops protesters from reaching ministry

Arab World Materials 24 July 2011 00:21
Egyptian army troops on Saturday fired shots in the air to disperse protesters trying to reach the Defence Ministry where the ruling military council is based, sources said, dpa reported.
Egyptian army stops protesters from reaching ministry

Egyptian army troops on Saturday fired shots in the air to disperse protesters trying to reach the Defence Ministry where the ruling military council is based, sources said, dpa reported.

Some 1,000 protesters chanting "Down with the military," took the streets, the sources said.

The protesters were also attacked by groups of men armed with knives and sticks, triggering fierce street clashes, the sources added.

The clashes came as tensions have heated up between the military council that took control of the country after a popular uprising ousted ex-president Hosny in February and activists who want the council to move faster in bringing former officials to justice and setting a date for the transition to civilian rule.

The army cut the road leading to the defense ministry, which is the headquarters of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces that took power Egyptian president Hosny Mubarak was ousted.

Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, who is the head of the military council, vowed on Saturday to set up a democratic civil state and hold free elections.

"We are keen to set up a modern civil state where democracy is firmly established and citizens' rights are preserved through fair and free elections," Tantawi said in a televised address on the 59th anniversary of an army coup that ended the rule of Egypt's monarchy.

The address was the first by Tantawi since Mubarak was toppled in a popular revolt in February.

Earlier this month, sources inside the military council said parliamentary elections, originally set for September, would be held between October and November.

No date has been officially set for the vote, which the military rulers said last week would be held in three rounds.

The military council, ruling Egypt since Mubarak's ouster, has already created a higher electoral commission, led by a top judge, to set the scene for the elections.

On Friday night, clashes erupted between protesters and the military police in Cairo, Alexandria, Egypt's second biggest city, and Suez, a restive city east of Cairo.

The protesters were angry at what they say the military rulers' slow pace for delivering on promises of reform.

"The armed forces have protected and supported the January revolution," said Tantawi, referring to the revolt that toppled Mubarak.

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