Egypt rulers, activists drift apart

Egypt rulers, activists drift apart

Thousands of protesters vow to stay at Tahrir Square until their demands are met

A boy with the colours of the Egyptian flag painted on his face flashes victory sign near Tahrir Square in Cairo on Friday. AP

The naming of a new prime minister, Kamal al-Ganzuri who once served as premier under Mubarak, failed to satisfy demands for change ahead of parliamentary elections due to start on Monday.

A 19-year-old demonstrator was fatally injured when the police attacked a protest in front of the cabinet headquarters that rejected Ganzuri’s appointment.

The victim died of massive internal bleeding from multiple fractures to the pelvis, possibly caused by a heavy vehicle, said a medic. Witnesses said a police van had charged into the demonstrators.

Thousands spent another night in Tahrir Square — the symbolic heart of protests that toppled Mubarak — where they vowed to stay until their demand of civilian rule is met.

Dozens of tents have been pitched, a rubbish collection station was set up and street vendors roamed the square in a sign that protesters were settling in for the long haul.

On Friday, Ganzuri — who served as Mubarak’s prime minister between 1996 and 1999 — assured Egyptians that the military had given him more powers than past cabinets, in a bid to placate protesters who accuse the SCAF of trying to retain control of the country.

“Previous cabinets over the past 60 years were given many powers by the president of the republic,” Ganzuri told reporters in his first public statement after his appointment.

In a later television address, Ganzuri said he would formalise his government “before the end of next week” and would allocate some portfolios to younger people.

But protesters in the square quickly rejected his appointment, saying he was not the man to lead a transition to democracy.

“We do not want someone who has been selected by the military council, we want a civilian who was with us in Tahrir during the revolution, someone who has the confidence of the people,” said one protester, Omar Abdel Mansur.

Hundreds of demonstrators in the square had branched off to the nearby cabinet offices to block Ganzuri from entering the building, chanting “revolution” and “Ganzuri is a former regime leftover”.

“Our mistake in the (January-February) revolution was to think that we had only to topple Mubarak,” one of the protesters, Mohammed Khattab, said.

The protesters proposed a list of presidential candidates to form a civilian leadership council, including former UN nuclear watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei, a prominent dissident during Mubarak’s rule.