By Heba Fahmy
CAIRO: A few thousand protesters continued their open sit-in in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Monday, despite a power cut and several reported thefts.
Blogger and activist Mahmoud Salem told Daily News Egypt that there were organized thefts reported all over Tahrir Square.
Salem added that protesters were concerned that thieves and thugs would take advantage of the power cut and attack peaceful protesters after sundown. Lack of electricity meant that what little relief protesters had under the sweltering heat through fans was cut off.
Member of the April 6 Youth Movement Mohamed Mahmoud told DNE that protesters caught four thieves stealing laptops and mobile phones from the tents.
However, he added, “we will continue our open sit-in. Nothing will phase us,” as calls grew for Tuesday’s million-man demonstration.
Protesters continued to close off traffic to the square as well as the Mogamaa building, a government administrative complex. Metro stations remained operative and passengers are still being checked upon entry to the square.
Mahmoud said that April 6 and other political groups participating in the sit-in were trying to convince protesters to open the Mogamaa building.
“Independent protesters decided to close off the Mogamaa without consulting political powers in the square,” Mahmoud said.
“We don’t want to disrupt or stall [people’s work and interests],” he said, adding that all the people in Tahrir should have a unified voice.
Protesters reiterated their demands for the swift prosecution of those responsible for killing and injuring the victims of the Jan. 25 uprising, halting military trials of civilians, purging the interior ministry of corruption and restructuring it, reshuffling the cabinet and setting a minimum wage of LE 1,200.
Mahmoud met with Prime Minister Essam Sharaf along with a number of youth leaders on Sunday to reiterate these demands.
Sharaf promised a complete Cabinet reshuffle by July 17 and a change of governors before July 25 during the meeting, according to Al-Ahram daily.
“Sharaf has given void promises to us many times before,” Mahmoud said. “We want serious action and a set timetable to execute our demands.”
He added that the Cabinet was expected to issue an official statement on Monday to respond to protesters’ demands. No such statement was issued by press time.
In Alexandria, over a thousand protesters continued their sit-in at both El-Qaed Ibrahim and Saad Zaghloul squares, echoing the demands in Cairo.
Protesters had closed off the Corniche road for a couple of hours near El-Raml Station on Sunday evening, but reopened it for traffic hours later.
Haitham Nassar, member of Al-Wafd Party in Alexandria, said protesters will close the Corniche road again on Monday evening for three hours to pressure officials to take swift action.
“We don’t want to obstruct the movement of vacationers who travel to Alexandria every summer,” Nassar said.
“So each day we prolong the amount of time we close off the Corniche road, to pressure the government, without completely paralyzing the city,” he added.
He said that protesters might escalate the sit-in to full-scale civil disobedience if the government continues to ignore their calls.