Published: 25 January, 2012, 10:04
Edited: 25 January, 2012, 15:14
Egypt's military rulers are partially lifting the country's decades-long state of emergency – a key demand of protesters who today mark one year since the uprising that toppled President Mubarak.
Egyptian protesters have returned to Tahrir Square in their thousands to mark the first anniversary of the uprisings that led to the ousting of President Hosni Mubarak.
At least 86 people have been injured during the record rally at Tahrir Square, when one of the platforms collapsed. Some 14 people have been taken to hospital.
RT's correspondent Anissa Naouai who is there, describes the situation as tense as thousands of protesters are trying to make their way to an already full square. The rally is even bigger than the protests on 28th January last year, when the Egyptian revolution began.
A debate rages over whether the rally celebrates the changes the uprising heralded, or there is still room for reform in Egypt.
The protesters are a melting pot of liberals, leftists and staunch Islamists waving banners and chanting slogans conveying a wide range of conflicting messages.
State of emergency half-measure falls short
Mohamed Hussein Tantawi of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) announced the emergency law will still be used by police in crimes related to so-called "thuggery", mass rioting and robbery.
Egypt has been under a state of emergency since 1981, when Islamist fundamentalists assassinated President Anwar Sadat. The law handed authority to the army and police and was abused with impunity for thirty years.
The SCAF widened the scope of the law last year, banning labor strikes and demonstrations, adding to the many grievances the council’s opponents hold against them. The ‘lifting’ is being taken with a grain of salt by critics, since it allows the security forces retain their grip on the country.
Latest report says 699 people were killed and 3,551 were wounded during the revolution that overthrew Mubarak. Many of the tents set up in Tahrir square are black, in memory of the victims.
Yet a year on, the country has a new lower chamber of parliament dominated by the moderate Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, banned under Mubarak, and more radical Salafi MPs. Its first session on Monday discussed a possible public execution of Mubarak and stripping the SCAF of power.
Unemployment in Egypt is at a ten-year-high, as the tourism industry hemorrhages business scared off the country’s beaches by the ongoing turmoil. Resentment among the population is obvious. Demonstrations are a regular sight in Cairo and elsewhere, reports RT’s Maria Finoshina. Protesters blame SCAF generals, who served Mubarak when he was in power, for hijacking the revolution, as well as for a series of bloody crackdowns on demonstrators during the year.
The military maintain that they will step down after a new president is elected in June, but protesters are unconvinced. They say the generals, who maintained an important position in Egypt’s life for at least six decades, will maintain control from behind the scenes.