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Middle east

Senior official orders release of anti-Mubarak protesters

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-04-07

A senior Egyptian official has ordered the release of more than 30 protesters detained in Cairo for demonstrating against the government. The protesters have called for political change and an end to President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule.

REUTERS - A senior Egyptian official on Wednesday ordered the release of more than 30 protesters detained for demonstrating against the government.

Of the 93 protesters police arrested for demonstrating in downtown Cairo on Tuesday, 60 were released the same evening, a security source said. On Wednesday, General Prosecutor Abdel Meguid Mahmoud ordered the remaining 33 protesters to be released, Mahmoud’s media office said.

Such demonstrations rarely occur in Egypt, the most populous Arab country and an important U.S. ally in the Middle East.  Protests are usually quashed by local forces swiftly.

The protesters, who gathered for couple of hours in central Cairo near the parliament, called for political change and an end to President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule.

But in a city of nearly 20 million people, the fleeting demonstration of several hundred protesters was a reminder of the delicacy of steps toward political change in Egypt.

Hundreds of riot police beat some people with sticks and dragged dozens away, witnesses said. They also chased off reporters and seized cameras being used by media.

The pro-reform group behind the protest, the Sixth of April Youth, is seeking constitutional amendments and an end to a decades-old emergency law that sanctions indefinite detentions.

Such protests take on new importance ahead of Egypt’s parliament election late this year and its presidential vote scheduled for 2011.

Mubarak’s National Democratic Party is expected to win an overwhelming majority in parliament. But human rights groups, which have long complained of manipulation of Egyptian voting, are calling for international oversight of the elections.

Mubarak, 81, has not said whether he will run for a sixth presidential term but, if he does not, many Egyptians believe he will try to hand power to his son, Gamal, 46.

 

Date created : 2010-04-07

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