Egypt activists and army discuss reforms

February 14, 2011 12:00 am

, CAIRO, Feb 14 – The online activists who organised Egypt\’s popular uprising said Monday they have discussed reforms with the country\’s new military rulers a day after the generals dissolved Hosni Mubarak\’s regime.

They said the military junta, which suspended the constitution on Sunday, vowed to rewrite it within 10 days and put it to a referendum within two months, in line with the protesters\’ demands for democratic change.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has set a six-month timetable for holding national elections but said the cabinet Mubarak hastily appointed on January 31 — headed by a former airforce commander — would stay on.

 "We met the army … to understand their point of view and lay out our views," said Google executive Wael Ghonim and blogger Amr Salama, in a note on a pro-democracy website that helped launch the revolt.

Ghonim, 30, became an unlikely hero of the uprising that he helped organise after he tearfully described his 12 days in detention in a televised interview, though he has denied having any political ambitions.

 The sweeping changes announced by the council on Sunday dismantled the political system that underpinned Mubarak\’s 30-year rule, which ended on Friday when he was driven from power after the 18-day pro-democracy uprising.

The dissolved legislative body was seen as illegitimate following elections last year that were marred by widespread allegations of fraud and gave Mubarak\’s National Democratic Party (NDP) an overwhelming majority.

The protesters had also demanded the overhaul of the constitution, which limited who could stand as a candidate in elections made it virtually impossible for the opposition to seriously challenge the NDP.

By Monday, Tahrir Square, where hundreds of thousands of people had held mass protests against the regime, was once again bustling with traffic, with a small group of activists continuing their sit-in surrounded by military police.

Dozens of sightseers milled through the square beneath huge portraits of "martyrs" killed in the uprising and among the tanks that still guard the main roads.

On Sunday, the cabinet met for the first time since Mubarak\’s departure, his portrait having been removed from the wall outside their chamber.

Mubarak had appointed the cabinet in the opening days of the revolt in a failed bid to appease the protesters.

Several members of the previous government, including sacked prime minister Ahmed Nazif and widely hated interior minister Habib al-Adly, have been banned from leaving the country by authorities investigation graft allegations.

A judicial source told AFP on Sunday the prosecutor general would begin questioning Adly "within hours."

Hundreds of members of Mubarak\’s police force — which was widely viewed as corrupt and brutal — marched on Sunday to demand that Adly, their former boss, be publicly executed in a bid to show their solidarity with the uprising.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian Museum announced that several priceless artefacts had been looted during the initial unrest sparked by the revolt.

Zahi Hawass, minister of state for antiquities, said a gilded wooden statue of the famed boy king Tutankhamun and several other ancient treasures had been stolen from the museum.

Looters had broken into the museum off Tahrir Square on January 28, during clashes between protesters and riot police who used tear gas and water cannon to try to crush the revolt before being driven from the streets.


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