Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday November 23, 2011
International criticism of Egypt’s rulers mounts
Egyptian police clashed with anti-government protesters for a fifth day in central Cairo Wednesday as a rights group raised the overall death toll from the ongoing unrest to at least 38. The United Nations strongly condemned what it called the use of excessive force by security forces.
The clashes resumed despite a promise by Egypt’s military ruler to speed up a presidential election to the first half of next year, a concession swiftly rejected by tens of thousands of protesters in Tahrir Square. The military previously floated late next year or early 2013 as the likely date for the vote, the last step in the process of transferring power to a civilian government.
The standoff has plunged the country deeper into crisis less than a week before parliamentary elections, the first since the ouster nine months ago of longtime authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak.
Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi tried to defuse tensions with his address late Tuesday, but he did not set a date for handing authority to a civilian government, instead offering a referendum on the immediate return of the armed forces to their barracks.
The Tahrir crowd, along with protesters in a string of other cities across the nation, want Tantawi to step down immediately in favor of an interim civilian council to run the nation’s affairs until elections for a new parliament and president are held.
Street battles have centered around the heavily fortified Interior Ministry, near the iconic square, with police and army troops using tear gas and rubber bullets to keep the protesters from storming the ministry, a sprawling complex that has for long been associated with the hated police and Mubarak’s former regime. (Toronto Star)