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Egyptians Flock To Mass Protest In Cairo

An Egyptian girl sits on the shoulders of her father during ongoing pro-reform demonstrations on Cairo's Tahrir Square.
Tens of thousands of Egyptians demanding an end to military rule gathered on Cairo's Tahrir Square in a mass protest on November 25, marking the end of a week of demonstrations in which dozens of people were killed.

The protesters urged Egypt's military council, which has ruled the country since February, to immediately transfer power to a civilian transitional government to lead the country until presidential elections scheduled for June 2012.

Some protesters were holding Egyptian flags, while another demonstrator was seen holding a banner, which read: "People Want A Civilian Presidential Council."

One protester, Saber Saad, told reporters that he was prepared to stay on Tahrir Square until his demands are met.

"We will not be dismissed from the square unless we retrieve our dignity," he said. "This is too much. We are suffering, people are struggling for food."

Meanwhile, it has been announced that the military council has appointed former prime minister Kamal Ganzouri to form a new government.

An Unpopular Choice

News of Ganzouri's appointment has not been welcomed by many demonstrators on Tahrir Square.

Some say that the 78-year-old ex-prime minister would not represent the country's youth, who led the popular uprising earlier this year that brought former President Hosni Mubarak's three-decade reign to an end.

"We want a prime minister who can understand these people," said Taha Mohamed, who was at the demonstration. "We do not need those who are rapidly firing into the air to disperse us. We need someone who can understand the people."

A number of protesters, however, supported Ganzouri's appointment. Dubbed the "minister of the poor" during his term as prime minister, Ganzouri was seen by many as representing those who were not well-off.

Ahmed Anwar, a young protester, claimed that Ganzouri, unlike many other top officials in Mubarak's era, wasn't involved in graft.

"His political history is clear, he is not tainted by corruption," he said. "As for our demands we need compensation for those people who have died here and the Field Marshal [Hussein Tantawi, Egypt's military leader] should be sentenced."

The US-educated Ganzouri served as Mubarak's prime minister in 1996-1999, but distanced himself from the old regime after the ex-president's ouster.

The military have not officially confirmed Ganzouri's appointment. The previous military-appointed civilian cabinet -- led by Essam Sharif -- resigned this week amid violent protests in Cairo and other cities.

Deadly Violence

The country's Health Ministry said that 41 people have died in the unrest. Most of the fatal violence occurred in a street leading from Tahrir Square to the Interior Ministry, where 36 people were killed in clashes between protesters and security forces.

The military council has apologized for the deaths of protesters at the hands of police, and offered compensation to the victims' families.

Barricades of barbed wire and metal bars are now set up in the street to separate government troops and demonstrators.

Today's protests were dubbed by Egyptian activists as "The Friday of the Last Chance" to demand an immediate transfer to civilian rule. The activists have been calling for a "million-man" protest in Cairo and elsewhere in the country.

The protests come ahead of parliamentary elections on November 28 – the first since Mubarak's fall from power in February.

compiled from agency reports

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