TENS of thousands of Egyptians descended upon Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo today to call for members of the former regime to be purged from government. They also demanded that the judicial process be sped up in holding to account those responsible for the deaths of 846 protesters killed during the uprising at the start of the year. Many people feel they can not move forward as a nation until the wrongs of the past are dealt with.
The former president, Hosni Mubarak, oversaw a corrupt and lethargic government and brutal security forces for 30 years that has left millions in a dire state of poverty while a small business and political elite have enriched themselves. He was ousted on February 11 after an 18-day uprising but is now apparently too ill to face charges while a number of his ministers have been sentenced to up to 30 years in prison.
Elections are scheduled for September with many new parties forming under new political freedoms. But today they put their differences aside and united under one message following threats of a boycott by some groups.
The square made an impressive sight as tens of thousands got down to pray amid a sea of people, flags, banners and tents marking the start of the rally, although the numbers failed to reach the million hoped for.
Leaders from some groups have called for people to remain in the square over night as part of a planned sit-in in theory refusing to leave until their demands are met. Hundreds have already been sleeping in the square for up to a week.
Fears over clashes with security forces or so-called ‘thugs’ proved to be unwarranted at the time of writing (7pm Egyptian time) with the police and army staying out of sight and checkpoints and barriers set up by demonstrators in the streets leading to the square to check for weapons and identification. However there were a few reports on twitter that the odd person suspected of being a troublemaker being sent packing.
As the evening drew in sporadic marches of between 100 and 200 people left the square and paraded around parts of Cairo before heading back to Tahrir while others made their way home. Meanwhile reports of security forces surrounding the US embassy and government buildings indicate a return to the surrounding area by the police and army.