Five months after protests in Egypt forced President Hosni Mubarak to step down, frustration has grown at what citizens perceive to be slow progress on reform, prompting some to pitch camp again in Cairo’s Tahrir Square where the initial revolt started.
“It is easy to see the lack of achievement anywhere in this country,” Mohamed Mursi, a 28-year-old protester who has been camping in the square for a week, told IRIN. The government and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces [SCAF] have only made empty promises so far, he said.
The demonstrators, including relatives of the victims of the 18-day uprising against Mubarak that started on 25 January, have erected tents in the middle of the square and are inviting motorists and passersby to join them to express public discontent with the way the SCAF, which took over after Mubarak left office, is running the country.
Mursi said they were preparing for a major demonstration on 8 July, when he hopes tens of thousands will converge on the square to present a list of demands to the government and SCAF.
“The fear now is that the goals of the revolution are being forgotten, while everybody is busy thinking of the post-revolution gains they can reap,” said Amr Osama, a member of the 6 April protest movement, a group of cyber-activists who made the initial call for revolution on several social networking websites, including Facebook.
“We need to bring the objectives of the revolution back on the table,” he added.
Among the things the protesters want to see are an independent justice system, better living conditions for the poor, and more security on the streets. They say corrupt remnants of the former regime, who are still in their offices in almost all state institutions, have hindered the return of the police to the streets.
“I do not think the demonstrators are demanding too much,” said Adel Suleiman, an Egyptian political analyst. “There is clear reluctance [to implement] on all fronts and the government must be aware of this, or anger will be uncontrollable on the streets.”
Many Egyptians are especially angry at what they perceive to be the inability of the courts to bring members of the former regime who ordered the killing of hundreds of demonstrators on 28 January and the days that followed, to account. The trial of some policemen, including former Interior Minister Habib Al Adly, has taken some time and he is yet to be sentenced.
So far, a criminal court has sentenced one police officer who took part in the killing of demonstrators, to death. The officer, however, has yet to be arrested. According to government statistics, more than 800 people were killed and thousands injured during the unrest.
“I cannot see any reason for this reluctance in sentencing the killers of the demonstrators,” said Abdel Monem Mohamed, a 26-year-old accountant whose older brother was killed. “My only interpretation of this is that the courts are complicit in the killing of the demonstrators.”
SCAF has called for calm. On 5 July, it established a US$ 17.5 million fund to compensate the families of victims of the unrest and their families.
The fund will also be used to treat the injured and provide jobs for victims. Other measures are expected to be announced before 8 July, including decisions related to the trial of those who killed demonstrators.
A separate government campaign is trying to raise $170 million to rehouse those living in Cairo’s worst slums.
The government has also raised pensions by 30 percent and is planning to introduce a minimum wage for workers. Plans are underway to provide medical care to people who were injured during the unrest.
Theme (s): Conflict, Economy, Governance, Human Rights, Security, Urban Risk,
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]