Egyptians gather for another protest, military offers talks

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Cairo, Nov 22: Fresh violence was feared as Egyptians today (Nov 22) converged on Cairo"s revolutionary Tahrir Square in response to a call for a million man march, threatening to derail the country"s first elections since the fall of Hosni Mubarak.

Sensing widespread public backing after years of political wilderness, the country"s Islamist grouping Muslim Brotherhood has given the call for continued protests, demanding an end to military rule.

Cairo, Nov 22: Four days of violence have already left 35 people dead as the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) reportedly rejected the resignation by the cabinet led by interim prime minister Essam Sharaf and extended an olive branch to the protesters, inviting them for dialogue.

Al Jazeera said the council was seeking agreement on a new prime minister before it would accept the resignation.

The SCAF has invited all political and national forces for an emergency dialogue to look into the reasons behind the current crisis and ways to resolve it, said an official statement.

The Brotherhood, which is the largest political force in the country agreed to participate in the talks.

“The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has called a meeting and we will participate," Saad al-Katatni, secretary general of the Party of Freedom and Justice, the Brotherhood"s political wing, said.

Simultaneously the government asked the Justice Ministry to set up a committee to probe the violence.

Groups including the Coalition of Revolution Youth and the April 6 movement, which spearheaded the anti-Mubarak revolution, called for a “million-man march" to put pressure on the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) to cede power to civilian leaders.

The activists are demanding immediate resignation of Sharaf"s cabinet and the formation of a national salvation government. They are also demanding holding of presidential elections by April 2012 and a complete overhaul of the Interior Ministry, which they believe is still dominated by
Mubarak-era people.

The Egyptian military is also coming under increasing pressure from abroad, with White House spokesperson Jay Carney saying that it was important that Egypt move towards democratic elections at the earliest.

State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland also called for “free and fair" elections and expressed the hope that election process would remain on schedule.

Protesters at the Tahrir Square carried a massive Egyptian flag, and many shouted anti-military slogans.

“The people want the fall of the marshal," they chanted, referring to Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, Mubarak"s defence minister for two decades and head of SCAF.

“This land belongs to Egyptians. It is not for sale and does not need any guardians," read a banner.

“All Egyptians demand an Egypt run by civilians," another said.

The SCAF appealed for calm Monday night after expressing “deep regret for the victims in these painful incidents".

PTI

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