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Violence Returns to Tahrir Square as Elections Loom
November 19, 2011

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Just nine days before the first truly representative elections in Egypt in a long time, police resorted to firing tear gas into a crowd in Cairo's Tahrir Square, injuring more than 500 people.

Crowds of people had gathered in the square, the site of some of the country's most vocal protests against the authoritarian rule of former President Hosni Mubarak, to protest what they perceive to be the glacial pace of reform at the hands of the ruling military council, which has announced plans to retain its central role in running the country even after the new parliament and president are elected.

In February, the military had issued a statement with a timeline for handover, saying that it would return full control to an elected government within six months of parliamentary elections. Those elections have already been delayed, and the election of the country's president has been further delayed; in fact, some observers are now saying that the presidential election might not happen for another year, during which time the military says it will maintain its budget and keep itself outside control of the newly elected parliament.

After a large group of protesters refused to pack up their tents and leave, police moved in and removed them, arresting 18 people in the process. Those arrested will, in all likelihood, face trial in a military court, the fate of up to 12,000 people since Mubarak left, according to human rights groups.

State television described the protesters as inciting a riot. The violence, to many, was eerily reminiscent of the kinds of clashes that punctuated the last days of Mubarak's rule.



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