EGYPTIAN anti-government protesters yesterday fought the regime to a standstill and pushed the supporters of President Hosni Mubarak out of the streets near Cairo’s Tahrir Square which they had controlled.
Stones were thrown and there was sound of gunfire.
As the workers occupying the square refused to move the crisis of the regime intensified.
Overnight five people were killed in the fighting and up to 3,000 injured.
Today after Friday prayers it is expected that hundreds of thousands of people will march to the presidential palace to force Mubarak to leave the country.
This prospect has created panic in the government.
First of all it was announced that Mubarak’s son Gamal would not stand for the presidency when his father goes.
Then it was said that the President had gone into self declared exile in Sharm al Sheikh.
Then in a TV address vice president Suleiman condemned those who had attacked the demonstrators and vowed that the culprits would be identified and punished.
He revealed that he was talking to a number of groups and expected to have discussions with the Muslim Brotherhood.
He said that 200 days would be needed to prepare elections and urged the people to leave the Tahrir Square so that this process could begin.
He said that there were a large number of foreigners in the square who were causing trouble, and appealed to all of the demonstrators to quit the square and to wait for the expected change to take place.
Earlier PM Ahmed Shafiq apologised for the fighting, which killed nine and wounded hundreds.
He pledged to investigate the violence, calling it a ‘disaster’.
Egypt’s Health Minister Ahmed Samih Farid said that eight people had died in the fighting, which began on Wednesday, and 890 were injured, nine of them critically – mostly as the result of stone-throwing and attacks with metal rods and sticks. Petrol bombs have also been thrown.
Shafiq told journalists: ‘As officials and a state which must protect its sons, I thought it was necessary for me to apologise and to say that this matter will not be repeated.’
Suleiman has stated that detained demonstrators ‘not involved in criminal acts’, would be released but he said those responsible for the clashes and the ‘general deterioration in security’ would be held accountable.
And in a separate development, the public prosecutor issued a travel ban on three former ministers and a senior member of the ruling party, among them the unpopular former Interior Minister Habib al-Adly.
Today up to a million people are expected to assemble near Tahrir square and to march first on the square and then to proceed to the presidential palace.
The demonstrators in the square have declared that they will remain there until Mubarak goes and not a moment sooner.
The Egyptian revolution is digging in!