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Middle East
Egypt army tries to clear Tahrir
Scuffles break out when soldiers try to remove protesters from Cairo's Tahrir Square, days after Mubarak is ousted.
Last Modified: 13 Feb 2011 09:34 GMT
Soldiers have moved to try and clear pro-democracy protesters from Tahrir Square in Cairo [Reuters] 

Scuffles have broken out in Cairo's Tahrir Square as soldiers tried to remove activists from the epicentre of Egypt's uprising which resulted in the president stepping down.   

Hundreds of protesters remained in the square on Sunday and organisers said they would not leave until more of their demands are met.

Meanwhile, normality was slowly returning to the rest of Egypt, at the start of the first working day since Hosni Mubarak was toppled during the weekend.

Soldiers shoved pro-democracy protesters aside to force a path for traffic to start flowing through Tahrir Square for the first time in more than two weeks.

The tents, where protesters camped out during the 18 days of protests, were removed.

Protester Ashraf Ahmed said the military could tear down his tent, but that he was not going to leave "because so much still needs to be done. They haven't implemented anything yet.''

Al Jazeera's James Bays, reporting from Cairo, said the confrontations between troops and protesters was something of a "flashpoint".

"I think it reflects a bigger problem, that the military believes that now Mubarak is out, it's time for stability. But some of the protesters think not enough has been done yet. They don't want to clear that square until the army has handed over to a civilian government."

Protest organisers have threatened more rallies if the ruling Supreme Military Council fails to accept their agenda for reform.

"If the army does not fulfil our demands, our uprising and its measures will return stronger," Safwat Hegazi, a protest leader, said.

Organisers want the dissolution of parliament and the lifting of a 30-year-old state of emergency.

Cabinet to stay

The spokesman for the cabinet, appointed when Mubarak was still in office, said on Sunday that it will not undergo a major reshuffle and will stay to oversee a political transformation in the coming months.

"The shape of the government will stay until the process of transformation is done in a few months, then a new government will be appointed based on the democratic principles in place," the spokesman told Reuters, adding that it was possible some portfolios could change hands in that period.

The Supreme Military Council vowed on Saturday to hand power to an elected, civilian government.

Click here for more of Al Jazeera's special coverage 

The military will "guarantee the peaceful transition of power in the framework of a free, democratic system which allows an elected, civilian power to govern the country to build a democratic, free state", a senior army officer announced on state television.

The council also pledged to honour its international treaties - in an apparent nod to the country's 1979 peace treaty with Israel.

"The Arab Republic of Egypt is committed to all regional and international obligations and treaties," the military statement read.

Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, welcomed the assurance, saying the "longstanding peace treaty between Israel and Egypt ... is the cornerstone for peace and stability in the entire Middle East".

Later on Saturday, Egyptian state television reported that prosecutors had begun an investigation into three former ministers from Mubarak's government.

Travel bans

Travel bans were imposed on former prime minister Ahmed Nazif and former interior minister Habib al-Adli, who were both sacked by Mubarak before he stepped down from the presidency on Friday.

A travel ban was also imposed on Anas el-Fekky, the information minister, who had been reappointed in a cabinet that had been swiftly sworn in as a concession to protesters. Shortly afterwards, Egypt's current prime minister Ahmed Shafiq told a private Egyptian television station that el-Fekky had resigned and that his resignation had been accepted.

Al Jazeera's Sherine Tadros, reporting from Cairo, said the bans were likely to be welcomed by pro-democracy activists, some of whom vowed to remain in the capital's Tahrir Square until their agenda for democratic reform is fully accepted.

"People out on the streets at the beginning were very much calling for the end of the regime, they were saying they don't want any of these people to remain in Egypt," she said.

"After the step down of President Hosni Mubarak they will be looking for accountability and that is what Egyptian authorities are now providing."

Our producer reports scattered fighting as army removes barricades

Our correspondent said questions now remain over how the military's transition to civilian rule will take place.

"I’m worried about the future," one Egyptian told Al Jazeera. "Nobody knows what's coming. We need to rebuild our country and economy because we are venturing into the unknown."

Despite the uncertainty, celebrations continued in Cairo and other parts of the country a day after Mubarak stepped down, handing power to the military.

Al Jazeera's online producer, Evan Hill, reported some instances of fighting between the army and protesters in Cairo as the military worked to dismantle barricades that protesters promptly put back in place in their effort to remain in the square.

For the most part, however, the day proceeded without any major incidents, following 18 days of rallies in Tahrir Square that culminated in a mass celebration on Friday at the news that Mubarak had stepped down.

The highest-ranking figure in Egypt is now Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, the country's defence minister and head of the military supreme council.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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