At least 20 people have been killed and hundreds wounded since the latest protests in Tahrir Square began last week in the worst violence since the toppling of president Hosni Mubarak in February.
Amidst the escalating violence, last night Cairo time Egypt’s transitional government submitted its resignation to the country’s ruling military, an offer that Eygpt’s military council then rejected.
According to the Global Post live blog, as of 11pm Cairo time, Egyptian riot police were still firing endless rounds of tear gas into the crowds near Tahrir Square:
“The narrow streets within a few blocks of Cairo’s city center are covered in thick white tear gas. The effects of the gas include burning in the throat and eyes and a strong feeling of temporary suffocation in the lungs.”
By 1.30am, “security forces seemed to be in full retreat to streets near their downtown Cairo headquarters … And although protesters celebrated a respite in the tear gas with chanting and a massive bonfire on the street, occasional gunfire could still be heard in the distance.”
As Dr Benjamin MacQueen wrote in Crikey yesterday, “the coup and the revolution are now fighting for control”.
Egyptians head to the polls in a week. But as MacQueen highlights: “In processes of political transition, events are highly dependent. A loss of faith in this first vote could tarnish the rest of the reform process, seeing Egyptians fall into the previous pattern of living outside the political system, rather than seeking to be active participants in their own political future. Should this happen, then Egypt’s Arab Spring will be remembered more and more for an opportunity lost.”