CAIRO: Egypt’s press on Tuesday reacted coldly to a series of concessions by Prime Minister Essam Sharaf aimed at placating protesters, amid mounting anger over the pace of reforms.
On Monday, Sharaf ordered a cabinet reshuffle within a week, a reshuffle of governors within a month and set a July 15 deadline for the dismissal of police officers accused of killing protesters in the uprising that toppled president Hosni Mubarak in February.
He also called on judges to proceed with open trials for former regime officials.
“Tahrir Square rejects Sharaf’s speech,” was the verdict from the independent daily Al-Masry Al-Youm, in reference to the Cairo square which was the epicenter of protests against Mubarak.
“The vision is cloudy, where are we heading?” asked the state-owned Al-Gomhouria, while “Tahrir calls for Sharaf’s resignation” was the front page headline in the independent Al-Shorouk.
Sharaf, whose appointment was widely celebrated in March, has been accused of weakness in the face of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces which took power when Mubarak was ousted.
A military source told AFP on Monday that the speech had been delayed several hours until the military council approved its final wording.
Sharaf’s speech comes as sit-ins continue in Cairo, Alexandria on the Mediterranean coast and the canal city of Suez, following nationwide rallies on Friday to demand political change.
Hundreds camped out in Tahrir Square, forming a picket line outside the Mugamma, a huge government complex housing Egypt’s sprawling bureaucracy.
In Alexandria, hundreds vowed not to budge from their sit-in in Qaed Ibrahim Square, and hundreds more packed into Al-Arbaein Square in Suez.
Among protesters’ key demands are an end to military trials of civilians, the dismissal and prosecution of police officers accused of murder and torture — before and after the revolution — and open trials of former regime officials.