Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Protests in Egypt in danger of losing momentum

Two weeks into protesting, the demonstrators occupying Tahrir Square have once again called for an immediate removal of Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak. Thousands of Egyptians gathered in the square have been guarded by the army, on site to maintain order. The talks between the government and the opposition seem to have achieved little as Mubarak is unlikely to resign.

Speaking about the dialogue, US President Barack Obama said: “Egypt has to negotiate a path, and I think they're making progress." The opposition, however, insists that the talks are heading nowhere, and that most people still live in fear of harassment and wrongful arrest. In a bid to appease the demonstrators, the government announced concessions, including a 15 per cent pay rise for six million public sector workers.

Discussions between the opposition and Egypt's newly appointed Vice President Omar Suleiman have stagnated as the government hasn't met the protesters' key demands, namely the resignation of President Mubarak.

Presently, the occupation of Tahrir Square is being tolerated, while the rest of Egypt goes back to normalcy. It is feared that the anti-government movement might lose momentum, and the participants might get rounded up and face prosecution by the establishment.

Sparked by the uprising in Tunisia, the protesters sought to oust Mubarak after three decades in power. According to Human Rights Watch (HRW) research, nearly 300 people have been killed in the unrest which began on 25th January. HRW said it has estimated around 297 victims in the days of violence, which saw fierce clashes with police, and battles between protesters and Mubarak supporters.

The numbers of those in Tahrir Square drop overnight, and after days of protests, those camping on the square are beginning to feel the strain.

Sources: BBC News, New York Times, Voice of America, AP

For more news and expert analysis about Egypt, please see Egypt Politics & Security.

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