Egypt’s military rulers rejected protester demands for them to step down immediately and said Thursday they would start the first round of parliamentary elections on time next week, despite serious unrest in Cairo and other cities.
The ruling military council insisted it is not the same as the old regime it replaced, but the generals appear to be on much the same path that doomed Hosni Mubarak nine months ago — responding to the current crisis by delivering speeches seen as arrogant, mixing concessions with threats and using brutal force.
So far it’s working no better than it did under the former leader. Protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, seething over the military’s perceived failings over the past nine months, say they will not leave the iconic plaza until the generals step down in favor of a civilian presidential council, a show of resolve similar to that which forced Mubarak to give up power in February after nearly three decades.
“What we want to hear is when they are leaving,” said Tahrir protester Khaled Mahmoud on hearing of an apology offered by the military for the deaths of nearly 40 protesters since Saturday. “The ouster of the marshal is only a matter of time,” he added, referring to Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, who was Mubarak’s defense minister for 20 years before he succeeded him in February.