Last updated: 16 July, 2011

Egypt protesters heckle general as tensions mount

Egyptians staging a sit-in in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Saturday heckled a general who tried to address them, forcing him to cut short his visit as tensions grow between activists and the ruling military.

The protesters have camped out since July 8 in the iconic square, the epicentre of demonstrations that overthrew ex-president Hosni Mubarak in February, in protest over the slow place of reforms overseen by the military.

General Tareq al-Mahdi, of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, told state television that a “minority” heckled him during a speech but that other protesters wanted to shield him as he visited demonstrators’ tents.

Witnesses said the general ended his visit after protesters taunted him with anti-military chants. A military official told AFP that he left the square after “protests” against his presence.

Thousands of demonstrators rallied across Egypt on Friday to demand political change as anger grows with the military over the speed of reforms and what they say are delays in putting former regime officials on trial.

Mubarak, 83, has been charged with murder over the deaths of anti-regime protesters during the 18-day revolt that ended his three-decade rule.

He is under arrest in a hospital in the Red Sea resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh and is said to have heart problems.

Essam Sharaf, the prime minister of the caretaker cabinet, is expected to unveil a new cabinet on Monday in a bid to appease the protesters. He has already ordered the sacking of senior police officers accused of abuse.