Egypt PM resigns, but protesters vow to stay in Tahrir Square
The resignation of Egypt's Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq – seen as too close to ousted President Hosni Mubarak – demonstrates the clout the protesters wield as they push for real change.
Updated at 12:17 p.m.Skip to next paragraph
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Supporters of Egypt's revolution logged another victory Thursday with the resignation of Ahmed Shafiq, the prime minister appointed by former President Hosni Mubarak just before he was toppled by a popular uprising last month.
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which is ruling the country until new elections are held, announced on its Facebook page Thursday it had accepted Mr. Shafiq’s resignation and appointed former transportation minister Essam Sharaf to form a new government in his place.
Shafiq’s ouster demonstrates that the armed forces are eager to maintain stability and recognize that keeping Mubarak associates in office would have the opposite effect. It is another manifestation of Egyptians' newly discovered people power as they take to the streets to demand far-reaching change beyond the ouster of Mubarak.
But while protesters welcomed Shafiq's departure, many were skeptical about his low-profile replacement and vowed to keep up the pressure on the government.
“It’s good news, but it’s not enough,” says Layla Maged, a protester in Tahrir Square taking refuge from the hot sun in a large tent she shares with several friends. A tarp covered the floor and she sat on a blanket. A tent next door proclaimed itself the Revolution Villa.
“We still need all the people arrested since Jan. 28 to be released, we need to get rid of the Emergency law, state security, and the local governors need to be gone," she said, adding that she would stay until those demands had been met. "Basically, we need to clean up the government.”
Debate over whether to stay in Tahrir
Shafiq’s resignation came after his appearance on a popular satellite television channel Wednesday evening was widely lambasted, and a day before a large protest planned to call for his ouster. It also comes just days after Tunisia's prime minister stepped down following fresh protests for more robust change turned deadly in that North African country, which was the first revolution to ignite the wave of popular revolt across the Arab World.
While the move appeared to be an effort by the Egyptian military to deflate Cairo protests before they swelled again, it is unclear whether Egyptians will take down the tent city in Tahrir square, the epicenter of the revolution, or will stay until their other demands are met.
In the square Thursday afternoon, groups gathered to debate the strategy. Dozens crowded around several men who argued about whether to go home, as some opposition groups have called on them to do. Many who had pitched their tents, such as Ms. Maged, appeared determined to stay.
“I am so happy,” says Abdullah AlFakharany, a protester who has been in Tahrir nearly every day since the movement began Jan. 25. “Finally we changed something. But I think people will not leave Tahrir Square because state security is still there, the Emergency Law is still in effect. There are still things to change.”