Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Millions of protesters rock Egypt to oust Mubarak

Egypt's anti-government protesters, scenting victory after President Hosni Mubarak agreed to discuss political reforms, rallied support for what they hope can be a million-strong march for democracy on Tuesday, reassured by the all-powerful army, which has said their demands are legitimate and that it will not fire on them.

The highways between Cairo and some Egyptian cities have been blocked by the army ahead of a scheduled massive march, Al Arabiya reporter said.

He added that the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) was preparing for a pro-Mubarak rallies in Cairo as well as in the Suez Canal governorate of Ismailia

"March of a million"

Protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square, mostly keeping vigil through the night in defiance of a curfew, vowed to continue their campaign until the 82-year-old Mubarak quit.

They were joined by thousands of others soon after dawn, some people sweeping rubbish from the square while others shouted insults against Mubarak at the army helicopter circling overhead.

By 01.00 pm (1100 GMT) around 200,000 people had gathered for the march, and by 2:21 more than a quarter of a million Egyptians throng Midan square.

At around 3:20 pm Egyptians reached their one million protesters target in Midan square, and hours later they have over-achieved their target of "march of a million" as more than one million Egyptians thronged Midan square in central Cairo on Tuesday, and hundreds of thousands of demonstrators protested in other Egyptian cities including Alexandria, Mansoura, Kafr al-Shaikh, al-Mahala, Seuz and Bour Saeed.

People have demonstrated despite internet and mobile phones services being unavailable in the country, and train services are still stopped from working.

They announced an indefinite general strike and called for a "march of a million" in the capital on Tuesday, the eighth day of an uprising that has claimed up to 140 lives in clashes between demonstrators and police.

Another million-strong march was planned in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria, as national train services were cancelled in an apparent bid to stymie protests.

Fifty Egyptian human rights groups, meanwhile, called on Mubarak to step down to avoid bloodshed on the eighth day of anti-government protests that have left at least 125 people dead.

"President Mubarak must respect the wishes of the Egyptian people and step down to avoid shedding the blood of Egyptians," the non-governmental organizations said in a statement issued ahead of new planned demonstrations.

The army also searched protesters before entering Midan square and handed out flyers urging protesters to keep security intact.

Mohammed ElBaradei, the Nobel peace laureate emerging as a key figure in protests in Egypt, said in a British newspaper Tuesday President Mubarak should leave "if he wants to save his skin."

"When a regime withdraws the police entirely from the streets of Cairo, when thugs are part of the secret police, trying to give the impression that without Mubarak the country will go into chaos, this is a criminal act. Somebody has to be accountable," he told The Independent.

"And now, as you can hear in the streets, people are not saying Mubarak should go, they are now saying he should be put on trial. If he wants to save his skin, he better leave," he said.


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