Egyptian protesters push for political reforms

test sharma | Updated: March 26, 2011, 7:16 AM IST

Cairo: More than 2,000 people gathered across the Egyptian capital on Friday to demand more political reform, including a speedy trial of ousted president Hosni Mubarak, state news agency MENA said.

One thousand protesters gathered in Tahrir square, epicentre of Egypt's uprising, chanting nationalist slogans and calling for Mubarak and other former government figures be tried for graft. They also called for the release of political prisoners.

Tahrir square in central Cairo has become a popular gathering point for demonstrators since the wave of anti-government protests that toppled Mubarak on February 11.

In a separate protest in downtown Cairo, 1,000 Coptic Christians demanded the release of protesters they said were detained in a previous demonstrations and called for speedy investigations into recent incidents of sectarian strife.

And in a third protest, 500 people gathered in front of Egypt's state television and radio building, demanding that employees hired under Mubarak quit for what they called "incorrect and misleading" coverage of anti-Mubarak protests.

The unrest in Egypt has disrupted the economy and has hit the vital tourist industry, while strikes have flared in defiance of a military ban on industrial action.

Egypt's military-backed government, facing a growing budget deficit, this week approved draft laws to impose prison sentences over some strike action and disruptive protests.

Justice Minister Mahmoud al-Guindy said on Friday the law to penalise some cases of protest and strikes was not meant to outlaw peaceful demonstrations, but to stop any "counter-revolution" from hijacking Egypt's revolution and to put an end to the disruption of the country's economy.

"Some of those who suffered from the collapse of the previous regime are now benefiting from spreading chaos," Guindy told Egyptian state television.

He said the draft law carries penalties of up to three years in prison.

First Published: March 26, 2011, 7:16 AM IST

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