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Egyptian army preparing for crackdown?

Published time: February 09, 2012 01:47
Edited time: February 09, 2012 05:48
Egyptian soldiers. (AFP Photo / Said Khatab)

Egyptian soldiers. (AFP Photo / Said Khatab)

Egypt’s ruling military has decided to deploy more troops and tanks across the country ahead of a nationwide general strike on the anniversary of the fall of the Mubarak regime.

Numerous political movements and parties are calling for civil disobedience on Saturday to force the immediate handover of power from the army to a civilian government.

We agreed to hold an open-ended strike starting on 11 February until our demands are met,” Haitham al-Khatib, a spokesperson for the Revolution Youth Union, said, according to the Egypt Independent newspaper.

The latest deployment of troops also comes in the wake of last week’s deadly football riots that triggered days of clashes between police and protesters and claimed 89 lives.

The Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) issued a statement on Wednesday saying it would send patrols across the country to “maintain the security of public, private and state buildings.”

The Armed Forces Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Sami Enan, called on Egyptians to “protect the security and stability of the country through work and production,” MENA news agency reported.

The civil disobedience campaign was endorsed by the Egypt Revolutionaries' Alliance, an umbrella organization that includes over 50 political groups. It issued a list of seven demands it hopes to achieve, including, among other things, the dismantling of the interim government and immediate presidential elections, the Al-Ahram newspaper says.

The activists plan to march to the headquarters of the SCAF in Cairo and hold a peaceful vigil there.

According to Prime Minister Kamal al-Ganzouri the calls for civil disobedience were part of a plan to “overthrow the state.” He urged all Egyptians to unite to get through the crises and dangers the country is facing.

Meanwhile, one of the Muslim world’s major universities, Al-Azhar, warned people against going on strike. Ismael Shaheen, deputy head of the university, said the calls were “unpatriotic” and stressed that there were other more peaceful ways to protest, according to Al-Ahram.

Also on Wednesday, al-Ganzouri told a press conference that the ruling military would not hand over power before June 30. He stressed that the military council would stick to its schedule.

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