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Egyptian Protesters Plan To March Through Cairo

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

And I'm Linda Wertheimer, in for Renee Montagne. In Egypt, the standoff between the ruling military council and demonstrators has taken over the streets of central Cairo. As we've been reporting, protestors rejected the military council's pledge to hand over power once a newly elected president and parliament are in place this summer. The protestor's demands are reminiscent of those that led to the ouster of Hosni Mubarak in February. They want an immediate end to military rule. NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson has been following a massive march in Cairo today. She has the latest.

Soraya, first of all, tell us where you are and what you see.

SORAYA SARHADDI NELSON, BYLINE: I'm in Tahrir Square, where protestors who were marching to the streets of Cairo have arrived. The Square is pretty much completely full, all sorts of people. And already, they're carrying signs denouncing the military rulers' decision to appoint a former Mubarak prime minister to be the new head of what they're calling the salvation government. This will be a caretaker government that would run the country until elections are held. They've also renamed the street where all the clashes have occurred this past week Martyr Street. This is a street where dozens of people were killed - protestors were killed in clashes with the security forces, who were in front of the Interior Ministry.

WERTHEIMER: What can you tell us about the man who is supposed to take over the government and what the crowd's reaction to him is?

NELSON: His name is Kamal El-Ganzouri, and he's a former prime minister who was in the Mubarak regime during the 1990s. He did distance himself from the regime. He was one of the few members of his government that resigned. But the problem is for the people in this square and many other Egyptians, he's the remnant of the old regime. They want to be done with anybody who is associated with the generals, with the former president. So they really would like a fresh start.

Some suggestions that have been put forward today by protesters include forming an interim civilian council that would include some potential presidential candidates that represent different walks of life that would be free of past associations with the Mubarak regime, or at least largely so, and have them take this government, or take this transition period until a parliament and a president can be elected.

WERTHEIMER: What about reports that the demonstrations are spreading beyond Cairo now?

NELSON: This is something that's been happening all week. It's important to note that there is a very large demonstration in a Cairo suburb called Abbasseya, and this is a pro-ruling military council demonstration. This is an impoverished neighborhood, a lot of frustrated, unemployed workers. They are out there in numbers that appear to be similar to what we're seeing in Tahrir Square.

WERTHEIMER: What you're telling me is that there are competing protests now in Cairo?

NELSON: There are competing protests in Cairo. And I think what this demonstrates is the very difficult and divisive period that is going to exist here until elections are completed.

WERTHEIMER: NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, reporting from Cairo. Thank you.

NELSON: You're welcome, Linda. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

As NPR's senior national correspondent, Linda Wertheimer travels the country and the globe for NPR News, bringing her unique insights and wealth of experience to bear on the day's top news stories.
Special correspondent Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson is based in Berlin. Her reports can be heard on NPR's award-winning programs, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and read at NPR.org. From 2012 until 2018 Nelson was NPR's bureau chief in Berlin. She won the ICFJ 2017 Excellence in International Reporting Award for her work in Central and Eastern Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and Afghanistan.
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