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Middle East
Egypt activists suspend Tahrir Square sit-in
Protesters pledge to suspend Cairo sit-in during Muslim month of Ramadan, ahead of trial for former president.
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2011 12:00
Activists have been occupying Tahrir Square, the epicentre of protests that ousted Hosni Mubarak [Reuters]

Egyptian protesters say that they will suspend their Tahrir Square sit-in during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and will return to the square to press for reforms after the month is over.

The month of Ramadan, during which Muslims abstain from food and drink from sunrise to sunset, will begin on Monday in Egypt.

Activists have been occupying Tahrir Square, the epicentre of protests that toppled President Hosni Mubarak, since July 8 to denounce the military rulers' handling of the transition.

Twenty-six political parties and protest movements said in a joint statement that their three-week sit-in had succeeded in achieving some of their demands, "pushing the Egyptian revolution a step forward".

"But based on our belief that sit-ins are a means, and not a goal, the political parties and youth movements have decided to temporarily suspend their sit-in during the holy month of Ramadan," they said.

They stressed that they "will return once again after the Eid (feast marking the end of Ramadan) to protest peacefully in Tahrir Square so that the rest of the demands are met".

'Fair elections'

Protesters who first took to the streets to demand Mubarak's resignation have continued demonstrating to demand an end to the military trials of civilians, the speedy prosecution of former regime members guilty of abuse, and the redistribution of wealth.

Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, head of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and Mubarak's long-time defence minister, pledged in a television address to work for a free system through fair elections and a constitution.

But the military rulers have accused the Tahrir protesters, singling out the April 6 movement, of driving a wedge between the people and the army.

Protesters have accused the SCAF of stalling reforms and of using Mubarak-era tactics to stifle dissent.

The military council has also come under fire from local and international rights groups for alleged rights abuses.

Mubarak trial

Meanwhile, the country's state news agency MENA said the trial of Mubarak, for charges that include ordering the killing of protesters, will take place at Cairo's Police Academy on Wednesday August 3.

Chancellor Ahmed Refaat said at a press conference that: "Only 600 attendees will be pre-approved to witness the hearings. Hearings will continue regardless of the vocational annual leave."

"No cameras of all types will be permitted into the hall." 

Mubarak could face the death penalty if convicted on charges of "pre-mediated killing"- or having played a part in a crackdown that left more than 800 demonstrators dead, the Egyptian justice minister said earlier this month.

Mubarak has been in hospital in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh since April when he was first questioned by the authorities.

It was not immediately clear if Mubarak's health condition would prevent him from attending in person.

Source:
Agencies
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