Egypt revolution: Protesters vow to keep pressure on military
Protest organizers are now calling for a million-man march on Friday to remind the new military rulers who's really in charge in Egypt's revolution.
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Labor strikes, unmet demands
The military forcibly evicted some of the hard-core of protesters at Tahrir Square yesterday and today. Al Jazeera reports, citing an unnamed military source, that the military is planning to ban labor strikes and protests.Skip to next paragraph
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Labor strikes have spread like wildfire in the past two days, shutting down train service, disrupting some fuel deliveries, and convincing the military to order banks closed today due to strikes complaining of executive corruption and low wages at both private banks and the Egyptian central bank.
Banks will remain closed on Tuesday, which is a scheduled holiday to celebrate the Prophet Mohammed’s birthday.
Naguib says a key unmet demand of the protesters is that hundreds of activists and demonstrators rounded up by the regime in the weeks since Jan. 25 remain in detention, as well as many more political prisoners from before the protests started.
Protesters divided on whether to trust military
Wael Ghonim, an activist close to Mr. ElBaradei who was in the meeting with military officers today, posted a review of it at the “We are All Khaled Said” Facebook page.
He said the activists were treated as equals, not subordinates, and that "I feel we are on the right path to achieve democracy." He also reported that the government has promised a referendum on a new, more democratic, Egyptian constitution within two months.
Mr. Ghonim, a regional marketing executive for Google, started the Facebook page to document the brutal police murder of Mr. Said in Alexandria last year that became a focal point for the online activism that contributed to the revolution.
In his post today, he made no mention of Friday protests and appeared to be putting his faith in the military. “I trust the Egyptian Army,” wrote Ghonim, who had no experience in politics or activism until the events of the past few months.
But other activists, some of whom have been protesting for democratic reform in Egypt for almost a decade, are less sanguine, indicating emerging splits in the surprisingly unified and leaderless coalition that dumped Mubarak from office after nearly 30 years in power.
“Mubarak is gone and so is [former intelligence chief and vice president Omar] Suleiman,” says a socialist activist who asked not to be identified. “But the military has been at the top of the system for 60 years. I can’t trust them.”
Enough momentum to pressure military?
Mark Levine, a historian of the Middle East at the University of California-Irvine who spent the past week in Cairo, says he expects the protesters to be able to hold together enough to keep the junta moving towards democracy.
“History tells us that militaries rarely give up political power on their own,” he says. “But these kids aren’t stupid, they’ve been living with [military-tinged rule] all their lives. If the Army starts to act like a traditional military junta and cracks down, will they be able to mobilize people fast again or are they exhausted? I have a feeling they’re not exhausted.”
He says a key element in the coming weeks will be with the labor strikes, and whether they start to coalesce into a united front to push economic demands – something that could be deeply threatening to the military, with its vast away of factories and secure management jobs for former officers running them.
“What’s happening with labor, that’s the key," he says. "It’s the economics.”