One year on, Egyptians back at Tahrir Square (Lead)

January 25th, 2012 - 11:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Cairo, Jan 25 (IANS) Thousands of Egyptians gathered Wednesday at Cairo’s Tahrir Square to mark the first anniversary of the uprising that ousted president Hosni Mubarak, RIA Novosti reported.

Supporters of all major Egyptian political forces gathered at the square, the centre of last year’s 18-day protests that ended 30 years of Mubarak’s authoritarian rule.

They remembered over 800 people, as per official estimates, who died during the uprising.

Earlier Wednesday, the country’s military junta partially lifted the state of emergency that had been in place in Egypt almost continuously since 1967.

The decision to lift emergency, however, failed to convince many protesters who believe that police abuse would continue despite the ruling.

Many demonstrators urged an end to the rule of the country’s Supreme Council headed by Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, who took power from Mubarak in February last year. He has since remained the country’s de facto leader.

The Muslim Brotherhood movement, whose Freedom and Justice Party won 40 percent of the vote in the recent parliamentary elections, however, has called for restraint, saying it did not favour enmity with the military rulers.

Demonstrators Wednesday sought Mubarak’s execution, the Youm7 online news portal reported. He has been put on trial on charges of ordering the demonstrators’ killings during last year’s protests.

Slogans in support of anti-regime protesters in Syria and Yemen and against Israel were also heard on Tahrir, the report said.

As Jan 25 marked the first anniversary of Egypt’s civilian uprising, many people also questioned if it had actually proved successful.

Following near three weeks of protests, Mubarak was replaced by the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) which ordered severe clampdowns on street demonstrations and political dissent.

Under SCAF’s governance and martial law, there have been 11,879 cases of civilians being tried in military courts, six times more than during Mubarak’s rule, Al-Jazeera reported Wednesday.

On Oct 9, protesters had called for the SCAF’s dissolution and this resulted in a military standoff and clashes leading to dozens of deaths through December 2011.

After a year since public protests commenced in the country, Egypt is now in the process of instituting a civilian rule.

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