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Protesters Gather in Cairo, Pressure Military to Hasten Transition

November 25, 2011 at 12:00 AM EST
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JEFFREY BROWN: Tens of thousands of Egyptians flooded Cairo’s Tahrir Square again today, keeping up the pressure on the military government. It was the seventh day of protests in the worst violence since the fall of President Hosni Mubarak in February. More than 40 people have been killed to date.

John Irvine of Independent Television News begins our coverage from Cairo.

JOHN IRVINE: The second revolution approaching the magnitude of the first. They needed a big turnout, and they got one.

An end to the violence around Tahrir Square may have taken some of the edge and urgency out of this demonstration, but it also allowed more supporters to flock here. If the generals thought they were up against only angry young men, then the makeup of this crowd showed them to be very much mistaken.

There was a cross-section of Egyptian society calling for real change. But there’s a problem. They may be standing shoulder to shoulder, but they’re not quite the cohesive unit they were back in January. Then, their clarion call was a simpler one, for the resignation of Hosni Mubarak. Today, things are a little more complicated.

The demonstrators are split over Monday’s historic elections, the first in modern Egypt without a predetermined outcome. Some see the ballot as a step in the right direction, but others regard it as a sham, because the elected M.P.s will still be subordinate to the army.

Will you be voting on Monday?

WOMAN: I don’t think so.

WOMAN: This is the first time I will vote. I am 43 — 46 years old, and this will be my first time.

MAN: I don’t actually agree with anybody who’s running for the parliament right now.

MAN: I will still vote because this is the only game in front of me.

JOHN IRVINE: They have been selling photographs here of infamous toppled dictators. Ten months after Egyptians got rid of their one, it’s confusion and turmoil that reigns. They’re impatient for a better future.

MARGARET WARNER: The crowds in Tahrir reacted derisively to the military’s appointment of a new prime minister, who held the post in the ’90s under President Hosni Mubarak; 78-year-old Kamal el-Ganzouri today insisted he would have greater authority than his immediate predecessor, who has resigned.

The ruling generals also announced that the first phase of parliamentary voting set to begin on Monday would be extended from one to two days.

Late today, three American students were reportedly released by Egyptian police and planned to catch flights out of Cairo to begin their way home. They were arrested last Sunday and accused of throwing firebombs at Egyptian security forces fighting with protesters.