November 20, 2011
Mass protests againstÂ Egypt’s military junta have swept beyond Cairo and into several major cities across the country, raising questions about the viability of elections due in just over a week.
Following a night of violence that left two dead and more than 600 injured, protests erupted in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, and further demonstrations were reported in the towns of Port Said, Tanta, Mansoura and Sohag. In Suez, a large urban centre on the Suez canal, protesters clashed with armed police who fired teargas in an attempt to disperse crowds.
Meanwhile in the capital, demonstrators who are still occupying Tahrir Square continued to repel sporadic attacks from security forces. Heavy fighting is still taking place in side streets off the central plaza, particularly around the area of the interior ministry where a large contingent of riot troops has been stationed to ward off protesters.
Critics of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (Scaf), which took power after the toppling of former president Hosni Mubarak earlier this year, are demanding the ruling generals set a date for the return of the country to civilian rule. Parliamentary elections are due to begin on 28 November but, under the current transition plan, the power of new MPs will be closely circumscribed, with executive authority continuing to reside with Scaf and no date yet set for a presidential vote.