CAIRO: The executive secretary of Qena governorate, Maged Abdel Kerim, was asked to handle the duties of Governor Emad Shehata Mikhael, whose executive powers were frozen for three months in a move meant to defuse residents’ rejection of the newly appointed governor.
The decision was announced by Prime Minister Essam Sharaf in a statement aired on state TV.
Sharaf called on the people of Qena to return the city to normalcy, stressing the importance of respecting peoples’ right to public services.
The protesters responded by opening all railway lines, blocked for almost 10 days.
However, a couple of hundred protesters continued to call for the resignation of Mikhael, according to residents.
“Our demand was very clear, we want Mikhael to resign,” Abdel Baaset Karim, a member of the Coalition for Freedom in Qena, who took part in the protests, told Daily News Egypt.
Former independent MP in Qena, Laila Mahmoud, said that the people don’t understanding the meaning of “freezing the governor’s responsibilities,” and whether that entails that he will take back his position after three months.
“I believe the people are even more frustrated than before,” Mahmoud said.
Thousands have been protesting in the Upper Egyptian governorate against the appointment of Mikhael since April 14, with some objecting to his career as a policeman and others objecting to him being Christian.
On Wednesday, the protesters opened the Cairo-Aswan highway, but continued to close off the railway lines, paralyzing the movement of trains in and out of the city.
Cabinet’s spokesman Ahmed Al-Saman visited Qena on Friday in a bid to end the sit-in and hear protesters’ demands.
Al-Saman vowed that Sharaf would visit Qena after his tour in the Gulf. He added that Sharaf delegated him to talk to the people of Qena and solve their problems, according to lawyer and Qena resident Walid El-Qadi.