Jailan Zayan, AFP
Last updated: 26 January, 2012

Egypt activists to hold mass rally Friday

Egyptian activists are preparing for a mass rally on Friday, after they spent the night in Cairo’s Tahrir Square marking the first anniversary of the uprising that ousted president Hosni Mubarak.

At least 27 pro-democracy groups have called for the rally to press for democratic change, with marches to set off from mosques after the noon Muslim prayer towards Tahrir, the National Front for Justice and Democracy said.

On Wednesday, Egyptians poured into the main squares of cities across the country, vowing to re-ignite their unfinished revolution, in a day billed as a celebration by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces that took power when Mubarak was ousted on February 11.

On January 25 last year, nationwide rallies kicked off the uprising that would change the course of the Arab world’s most populous nation, inspiring hopes of democratic change.

But a year later, many are disenchanted and even angry at the ruling military, who protesters accuse of reneging on promises of reform and of rights abuses.

Egypt’s press on Thursday hailed the “revival” of the revolution after massive crowds took to the streets in Cairo, the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, the canal city of Suez and in the Nile Delta and Sinai peninsula.

“The revolution continues,” trumpeted the independent daily Al-Shorouq, saying millions of Egyptians wanted to see “the end of military rule.”

“The people want the continuation of the revolution,” proclaimed the state-owned Al-Ahram, above a large picture of massive crowds thronging Tahrir Square — the symbolic heart of the Egyptian protests.

Protesters spent a peaceful Wednesday night in Tahrir Square, despite weeks of warnings by the military council and state media of possible trouble.

Egypt’s bourse on Thursday spiked 7.18 percent in a buying spree, after the peaceful and orderly rallies. The main EGX-30 index reached 4432.99 points at the close of trading.

“There was general optimism in the market after the peaceful demonstrations, with expectations of stability on the political and security fronts likely to affect investors positively in the coming phase,” said financial analyst Eissa Fathy Eissa.

Formal celebrations remained discreet on Wednesday, with the overwhelming demand of rallies focused on working for the goals of the revolution.

The independent Al-Tahrir newspaper listed the goals on its front page, including an immediate handover of power to civilian rule, the election of a president, justice for those killed during the uprising, an end to military trials for civilians, as well as social justice and the guarantee of freedoms.

In Cairo, massive marches snaked towards Tahrir, with the chant of “Down with military rule!” ringing across the capital.

By late afternoon, the rally occupied surrounding streets and bridges, in scenes reminiscent of the 2011 protests in which hundreds of protesters were killed and thousands injured.

Mubarak is currently on trial, accused of involvement in the killing of the protesters, and many of his ministers are behind bars on charges of corruption.