CAIRO: Security prevented doctors from holding a protest outside the People s Assembly on Tuesday.
The Doctors Syndicate had called for a protest just after midday, to coincide with Finance Minister Youssef Boutros Ghali s presentation of the annual state budget to parliament.
Groups of plain-clothed men, some of whom were carrying truncheons or walkie-talkies, were spread out along the length of Cairo s central Qasr El-Aini Street. Riot police had been stationed outside both parliament and the Doctors Syndicate.
A large number of high-ranking police officers and state security investigations officers – but no doctors – were congregated opposite parliament at 12:30 pm when the protest was scheduled to begin.
Daily News Egypt was told by state security investigations officer Hisham El-Iraqi that the protest had been banned, and that doctors had been instructed to go to the Doctors Syndicate. The press was ordered to leave the area in front of the parliament.
An identical scenario occurred at the syndicate, where journalists were told that they were not allowed to enter the syndicate building and could not stand in its vicinity. They were also informed that the protest had been banned.
When a journalist enquired about the reason for the ban, an officer said: “There is no reason.
The Doctors Syndicate subsequently announced on its website that the protest had been moved from outside parliament to the Doctors Syndicate.
Daily News Egypt was unable to establish whether the protest had taken place because the press had been forced by security bodies to move away from the syndicate before the protest was scheduled to start.
Yesterday s action is part of a series of protests organized by the syndicate, following Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif s announcement earlier this year that pay pledges made last year could not be upheld, due to insufficient funds caused by the global economic crisis.
On April 1, 2009 the Doctors Syndicate staged a protest outside the finance ministry calling for implementation of the pay pledges.
The decision to stage the protest outside the finance ministry was criticized by rights group Doctors Without Rights, who say that the reason why the pay promises have not been implemented is not because of insufficient funds, but because there was never any genuine intention to improve doctors pay.
The Doctors Syndicate meanwhile wrote in a statement published on its website that, “doctors are aiming to remind the president, ministers – and in particular the finance minister – that Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif put in place a plan to improve doctors wages which requires funding of around LE 1 billion this year, in addition to the amounts allocated in the last [financial] year.
“The syndicate is determined that the three stages of the pay plan should be implemented, and that after the conclusion of the plan s implementation, fresh negotiations with the government must begin – aimed at the issuing of a law putting in place a minimum wage for doctors, the statement continued.
Another protest is scheduled to be held today at 12:30 pm outside parliament.