Tens of thousands of Egyptians flocked to Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Friday, to prepare for the biggest day of protests in a week of violence in which at least 41 people were killed.
Those protesting the ruling military council’s decision to hold parliamentary elections next week without committing to transfer power to civilian authorities set up barricades at the entrance of Tahrir Square in order to block security forces out.
The main protest, dubbed the “March of the Million,” will end at Tahrir Square. Two more protests are expected to take place alongside it, one of those supporting the military council, and one of those supporting the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Muslim Brotherhood march is due to begin at the Israeli embassy in Cairo toward Giza quarter. The brotherhood chose to start at the Israeli embassy in order to divert the attention from Cairo clashes to other matters, such as the Palestinians.
Since last Saturday, streets near Tahrir have become battle zones with stone-throwing protesters fought police firing tear gas, pellets and rubber bullets, although a truce on Thursday calmed the violence in the past 24 hours.
Activists sought to bring a million people into the streets of the capital on what they have dubbed “the Friday of the last chance”. The weekly Muslim prayer day has traditionally produced the biggest demonstrations of the Arab Spring revolts sweeping across the Middle East.
There was still no official confirmation early on Friday of state media reports overnight that the ruling military council had appointed Kamal Ganzouri, who served as prime minister under Mubarak from 1996-99, to head an interim cabinet. Prime Minister Essam Sharaf’s government resigned this week.
The military rulers say they will transfer power to civilians, but the process should not be rushed to avoid chaos.
Washington, long a bedrock supporter of Egypt’s military, called on the generals on Friday to step aside “as soon as possible” and give real power to the new cabinet “immediately”.
“Full transfer of power to a civilian government must take place in a just and inclusive manner that responds to the legitimate aspirations of the Egyptian people, as soon as possible,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement.
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This story "Tens of Thousands Join Protests in Cairo" was written by Haaretz.