FREEDOM CALL ON CAIRO STREETS

by our Arab Affairs correspondent

GANGS OF THUGS battle with pro-democracy demonstrators for control of the centre of Cairo following a week of strikes and mass protests that has paralysed the country and brought his regime to its knees. Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak has stepped down.

But the ageing dictator, who once hoped to see his son take his place at the helm, wants to remain in office until the presidential elections scheduled for September to oversee “the necessary steps for the peaceful transfer of power”.

This has been dismissed as a trick by opposition leaders who want him to go without conditions. They say they will only talk with the leadership of the armed forces on the establishment of an interim government and they are threatening to call for a mass march on the presidential palace if Mubarak doesn’t go by the end of the week.

Mubarak made his announcement on Tuesday following the “million-man” march to Tahrir [Liberation] Square in the heart of Cairo to demand his resignation and other mass protests throughout the Arab country.

justice

The demonstrations began last week when students and intellectuals took a leaf out of the Tunisian book and gathered in the heart of Cairo to demand social justice and an end to the dictatorship.

It took off when millions of workers and peasants joined in after Friday prayers with a wave of strikes and protests against the regime responsible for the growing unemployment, in the fighting but the army and police have, so far, refused to join in or enforce the curfews imposed by the regime to try to quell the protests.

Though the Mubarak government was a loyal servant of US imperialism for over 30 years the Americans, in the end, proved powerless to save him.

Washington neither had the money nor the power to save their Egyptian pawn. But the Americans are clearly trying to manipulate events to ensure that the transfer of power goes to a “safe pair of hands” in the near future.

But where can that person be? The European Union’s likely candidate is Mohamed ElBaradei, the former head of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency and Nobel Peace Prize winner, who has emerged as the leading voice of the Egyptian liberal bourgeoisie. The Egyptian lawyer and diplomat came to prominence when he crossed swords with the Americans over Iraq and Iran when he was head of the Vienna-based UN agency. But ElBaradei has spent most of his working life abroad and he was barely known on the Egyptian street until the last few days propelled him to public prominence.

Though most Egyptians just want Mubarak out, some are calling for his arrest and trial for corruption and treason. But most of the mainstream opposition including the Movement for Change generally known as Kifaya [Enough] and the Muslim Brotherhood are prepared to have ElBaradei as their front man to negotiate a peaceful handover and pave the way for free elections.

Egyptian communists, however, insist that the revolution will continue until the demands of the masses are fulfilled. The Communist Party of Egypt has called for Mubarak’s dismissal and the formation of a presidential council for a transitional period of limited duration and the establishment of a coalition government to administer the country during this period.

prosecution

The communists want the prosecution of all those responsible for the hundreds of deaths and injuries of revolutionary martyrs and victims of oppression, along with the prosecution of those responsible for plundering the wealth of the Egyptian people. And they calling for the election of a constituent assembly to draft a new constitution based on the principle of the sovereignty of the nation and the devolution of power within the framework of a democratic just civil state.