>Africa File: Egypt’s socialist dictatorship uses 1981 emergency law to suppress Tunisian-inspired protests, riot police disperse opposition in Cairo

>– Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s Largest Opposition Group, Promises “Strong Presence” in Protests Slated for January 28

– Tunisia’s Interim Government Issues Arrest Warrant for Deposed President Ben Ali, Releases Political Prisoners

– Tunisian General Workers’ Union Announces General Strike with Intent of Toppling Interim Government

Political unrest continues to sweep across North Africa, challenging long-ruling socialist dictatorships.

In Egypt, unprecedented protests against President Hosni Mubarak have entered their third day as regime opponents converge in central Cairo, awaiting the arrival in country of main opposition figure, former director of the International Atomic Energy Agency Mohamed El Baradei. Protesters are demanding that the long-ruling National Democratic Party, which descends from Gamal Abdel Nasser’s Arab Socialist Union, dissolve itself. Mubarak became president after Anwar Sadat, who signed Egypt’s current peace accord with Israel, was assassinated by Islamic fundamentalists in the army.

Clashes between oppositionists and security forces were also reported in the eastern Egyptian city of Ismaliya.

On Wednesday morning, an Egyptian opposition group called for a second day of protests in Cairo, just hours after police fired tear gas and beat anti-government protesters to clear a central square in the city. The 6th of April Youth Movement used its Facebook page to urge oppositionists to continue their defiance of President Mubarak’s 30-year-old regime.

The day before, rock-throwing demonstrators occupied Cairo’s Tahrir Square for hours, resisting attempts to dislodge them by police wielding tear gas and water cannons. The demonstrations began peacefully, with police at first showing restraint. Several witnesses, however, allege the clashes began after protesters attempted to seize a water cannon truck. After Tuesday’s protest, which was illegal under a 1981 emergency law, Egypt’s Interior Ministry promptly re-banned all new demonstrations.

Several thousand Egyptians demonstrated in the historic port city of Alexandria. There were also large protests in Mansoura and Mahalla al-Kobra. Three protesters and a police officer were killed in Tuesday’s unrest. The latter was inspired by Tunisia’s so-called Jasmine Revolution, which led to the ouster one week ago of President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.

Since Ben Ali’s departure from Tunisia, at least five Egyptians have attempted suicide by self-immolation, imitating the young Tunisian whose burning death in December rallied protesters there. Similar protest marches and self-immolations have occurred in defiance of Algeria’s long-ruling National Liberation Front regime, prompting a swift police crackdown in Algiers.

Egypt’s opposition groups, including the Kifaya movement, used Facebook and Twitter to organize the protests. However, on Tuesday Twitter’s owners stated their social networking website had been blocked in Egypt, presumably by government authorities. Legal parties such as the liberal Wafd and the banned Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest and best organized opposition group, did not officially endorse the demonstrations, but a number of their members participated. The Muslim Brotherhood, however, has promised a “strong presence” in demonstrations slated for January 28.

Meanwhile, Tunisia’s interim government, which is still dominated by former members of the long-ruling Constitutional Democratic Rally, have issued an arrest warrant for Ben Ali and his family. The Ben Ali clan is charged with theft and currency offenses. Interpol has been asked to help arrest the deposed president, his wife Leila Trabelsi, and other family members who have fled the country. According to interim Justice Minister Lazhar Karoui Chebbi, Ben Ali, who is reportedly in Saudi Arabia, “amassed vast riches” during his 23 years in power, while his family controlled many of Tunisia’s most influential companies.

Chebbi also noted that six members of the presidential guard will be tried for inciting violence after Ben Ali’s departure. He indicated that 2,460 prisoners had been released since last week, but would not reveal how many were jailed for alleged political crimes. Immediately after Ben Ali’s flight from Tunisia, the prime minister promised to release all political prisoners.

The Tunisian General Workers’ Union, a prime mover in the anti-government protests, announced a general strike on Wednesday in Sfax, Tunisia’s second city and economic center.

One response to “>Africa File: Egypt’s socialist dictatorship uses 1981 emergency law to suppress Tunisian-inspired protests, riot police disperse opposition in Cairo

  1. mah29001 January 28, 2011 at 4:42 am

    >Looks like Joe Biden, the puppet of the allege Soviet mole Barack Obama is defending Mubarak and his regime, in spite of the Muslim Brotherhood and Egyptian Leftists leading the violent protests.I wonder why it seems there was so much talk about Obama's allege promotion of the kill switch for the USA's cyberspace to the way Egypt is going about now?

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