BY VOA NEWS – Tens of thousands of Egyptians are protesting in Cairo’s Tahrir Square Monday, defying a government-imposed curfew as they continue to press for an end to President Hosni Mubarak’s nearly 30-year rule.
Helicopters flew overhead as protesters called for a million-strong march in Cairo on Tuesday to force Mr. Mubarak’s resignation.
They also have called for a general strike, although much of the Egyptian capital already is shut down.
Egyptian media say President Mubarak has appointed a new interior minister and finance minister in what analysts say is an apparent attempt to quell angry protesters. The foreign minister and long-serving defense minister kept their posts in the Cabinet shuffle.
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Reports from Cairo say former director of prisons General Mahmoud Wagdy will replace Habib Adly as the interior minister, who oversees the police and plainclothes domestic security forces. Many Egyptians had been calling for his firing after deadly clashes last week between police and demonstrators.
Police are going back onto the streets Monday, but security sources say they have orders to stick to regular police work without confronting any demonstrators.
Thousands of foreign tourists are crowding Egyptian airports in a bid to flee the turmoil. Several nations have sent evacuation flights into Cairo.
More than 100 people have died during protest violence since Tuesday.
Looting has become a problem in Cairo, and some residents have formed self-defense groups to protect their homes. Egypt’s army is continuing its increased presence, with tanks guarding banks and government buildings.
The Al Jazeera television station says authorities detained six of their workers and confiscated their camera equipment. The reporters were later released.
The uprising in Egypt began as a spontaneous, local-level movement but began to seriously organize Sunday when the country’s largest opposition group, the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, threw its support behind Egypt’s most prominent democracy advocate, former U.N. nuclear chief Mohamed ElBaradei.
A newly formed opposition coalition, which includes the Islamist movement, has asked ElBaradei to form a national unity government and make contact with Egypt’s military.
ElBaradei told some 5,000 protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square Sunday that they “cannot go back.” He called for “a new Egypt” in which every citizen “lives in freedom and dignity.” Senior Brotherhood leader Essam el-Erian also addressed the crowd.
El-Erian had walked out of prison earlier in the day after the guards fled. Gangs freed at least 34 members of the Muslim Brotherhood and thousands of other inmates after attacking jails across Egypt and overpowering the guards.