Saturday, June 15, 2024
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Egypt army picks new Prime Minister

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CAIRO: Egyptian former prime minister Kamal Ganzouri accepted a request from the ruling generals to form a new government, state media reported, but protesters brushed away their choice and vowed to hold another mass rally on Friday to demand the army quit power.

Ganzouri confirmed he had agreed in principle to lead a national salvation government after meeting with the head of the ruling military council, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the website of state newspaper Al Ahram reported, citing sources close to Ganzouri.

In an attempt to defuse protests by thousands of Egyptians frustrated by nine months of military rule, the army council promised parliamentary elections would start on time next week. It earlier said it would speed up the timetable for a handover from military to civilian presidential rule.

Violent clashes with police in and around Cairo’s Tahrir Square since Saturday have killed dozens, in scenes reminiscent of the popular uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak in February.

“The people demand the execution of the marshal,” crowds chanted, referring to army chief Tantawi who was Mubarak’s defence minister for 20 years.

Ganzouri headed a cabinet from 1996 to 1999 that introduced some economic liberalisation measures. Many Egyptians viewed him as an official who was not tainted by corruption, but his record serving under Mubarak could stir opposition from those demanding a clean break with the past. As talk of a Ganzouri appointment filtered through the crowds packed into Tahrir Square, reactions were mixed. Some said his age made him a bad choice. Ganzouri is in his late 70s.

“Ganzouri is no good for this transitional period, which needs youth leaders, not grandparents,” said student Maha Abdullah.

Metwali Atta, a 55-year-old taxi driver who was camped out in Tahrir, disagreed: “I would like to see Ganzouri as prime minister. The man has a strong character, unlike (outgoing prime minister) Essam Sharaf who was easily bossed around by the military council.”

In a communique, protesters called a million-man march on “the Friday of the last chance” to back demands for an immediate transfer to civilian rule via a national salvation government. (Agencies)

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