Voice of America (Washington, DC)

25 January 2014

Egyptians Mark Tahrir Anniversary

Cairo — Egyptians are marking the third anniversary of the uprising that toppled long-time president Hosni Mubarak. But the day has been marked by protests against another general who appears set to repeat the pattern of a military-influenced government, as well as further threats from Islamist militants.

The crowds in Cairo's Tahrir Square Saturday clamored for the kind of leader that protesters three years ago were determined to get rid of.

On the third anniversary of the Egyptian uprising against long-time leader Hosni Mubarak, tens of thousands of people, carefully vetted by security, flooded the square for government sanctioned celebrations. Many held aloft posters of Defense Minister and defacto leader General Abdel Fatah el-Sissi.

Nearby, police used tear gas and shot live ammunition overhead to hold back an opposition protest, including activists from the 2011 uprising, from nearing Tahrir.

Elsewhere in Cairo and around the country, police clashed with supporters of former president Mohamed Morsi, ousted by the military last year after popular protests.

Many of those on Tahrir Square are calling on Sissi to run for president, saying he will bring stability to a country that has seen upheaval upon upheaval over the past three years.

But stability is elusive. Despite heightened security in place for the anniversary, a series of bombings rocked the capital Friday. Two more small bombs went off early Saturday in Cairo, while an explosion was reported later in the day near a security building in Suez.

In neighboring Libya, several members of the Egyptian embassy were kidnapped Friday and Saturday, following the arrest of a Libyan militia leader in Egypt.

And in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, where the military is fighting an array of jihadist insurgencies, a military helicopter crashed, killing five soldiers.

A Sinai-based group, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, has claimed responsibility for the Friday bombings in Cairo, which targeted police.

They have vowed to carry out further attacks against security and government targets, and warned Muslims Saturday to stay away from police stations.

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