Monday, 14 February 2011

Letter from Cairo 13th February 2011

Yes, Mubarak is out and the people rejoiced and many are still rejoicing but not everyone is satisfied with the outcome.  I have eavesdropped on a number of conversations today and people are beginning to worry about the next steps that the army will take or if indeed they will take any.  As the morning started, a few hardliners moved back to Liberation Square and the army tried to remove them gently; the news got round and more protestors moved to the square until by the evening there were fairly large numbers again; they are impatient and want all their demands to take place immediately. However, we have accomplished so much and while it is a good idea to keep the pressure up, the people need to be careful not to push too hard or everything we have achieved could fall apart.  The army has made commitments so, at this juncture, our citizens need to use wisdom and simply monitor the army’s actions, until next Friday.

On the other hand, perhaps they are right to keep a certain momentum going as the head of the army, General Tantawi, is something of a dictatorial character and the one thing that the army needs to prove, and soon, is that they have no intention of hijacking the system.

Meanwhile, ironically, there are now tens of thousands of people protesting in Rome and as many in other Italian cities, asking for the removal of Silvio Berlusconi for allegedly having sex with under-aged girls.  He has been accused of using his political power to cover up the scandal and denies everything.  I can hear the same word being used in Italian ‘Basta’ as has so often be used in Egypt over the past few weeks – ‘Kefaya’ – meaning ‘Enough’

Paradoxically, the police in Cairo protested in front of the Ministry of the Interior building today.  They want a pay rise!  They used brutality on Friday the 28th by attacking the protestors with water, tear gas and rubber bullets and then disappeared off the face of the earth in order to cause havoc, pandemonium and a total sense of insecurity, which put the government in a position to be able to say that it was the protestors who were destabilising the country.  

There are a number of new movements but one which stands out is the Kefaya Movement for Change.  This appears to be a coalition of the youth who want to create a political platform and who are calling themselves ‘The Youth Revolution’  However, this is just one group.  There are so many movements and voices but there is, at the moment, no ONE voice.  Can the youth movement galvanise and organise itself? 

Meanwhile the military authorities have dissolved the country's parliament and suspended the constitution.  This of course leaves the country with no leader, no parliament and no constitution.  The cabinet is still in place but is constituted of members of the old regime.  Basically we are left with the army and old regime figures.

Ideally, we need a multi political party but I don’t quite see how that can happen as most of the existing opposition parties don't seem to have much sway.

The whole scene is fast-moving and dramatic; but, no one expected it to be easy!


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