Protesters In Egypt Try To Maintain Pressure

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Thousands of demonstrators turned out in Cairo's Tahrir Square Friday, chanting and waving flags in an effort to keep up the pressure for what they say should be a real change of regimes. Protesters are rejecting the reshuffled cabinet, and they're calling for constitutional changes and a lifting of the hated Emergency Law that gave the government autocratic power for 30 years.


In Cairo's Tahrir Square today, thousands of demonstrators turned out. They chanted and waved flags in an effort to keep up the pressure for what they say should be a real change of regimes.

As NPR's Corey Flintoff reports, protesters are rejecting the country's reshuffled cabinet. They're also calling for constitutional changes and for a lifting of the emergency law that gave the government autocratic powers for 30 years.

(Soundbite of chanting)

COREY FLINTOFF: The cadence of the chants was familiar, but instead of Mubarak, the demonstrators have inserted another name.

(Soundbite of chanting)

FLINTOFF: The chant says: We don't want Shafik anymore even if they shoot us. Shafik, why are you still here? That's Ahmed Shafik, the former Egyptian Air Force commander who's now prime minister in the interim government. People say he's a creature of the Mubarak era and a guarantor that Egypt's powerful military won't lose its privileges.

Many people, such as Malak Rouchdy, a professor at The American University in Cairo, say Shafik and other members of the old regime must go.

Professor MALAK ROUCHDY (Sociology, The American University in Cairo): I want to see the change in the government. I want to see Ahmed Shafik gone. I want to see the rest of the regime gone. I want to see the national - the state security gone.

FLINTOFF: Egypt's military has said little in the past few days, although some generals recently appeared on a popular talk show to defend Shafik.

Many people are waiting for the recommendations of a constitutional commission, which was appointed by the military. The commission is to come up with the legal steps needed to clear the way for political parties, free elections and the removal of the government's emergency powers.

Some activists say they want a special civilian council, free from members of the Mubarak regime, to manage the transition. Until then, they say they'll continue to assemble in Tahrir Square.

As one man put it: I'm still here because they're still here.

Corey Flintoff, NPR News, Cairo.

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