Egypt Protesters Remind Army Who Is Really in Charge

'January 25th coalition' seeking repeal, within 10 days, of the law restricting the establishment of new political parties, along with a new law that ensures political rights.

CAIRO - The political demands of the coalition that fomented the recent revolution in Egypt appeared yesterday in a position paper published in numerous Egyptian newspapers.

Cairo’s Tahrir square - AFP

The "January 25th coalition" of civil groups sought to remind the army - which has taken over the running of the country in the meantime - that it derives its legitimacy to do so from the revolution.

According to Al Jazeera's Arabic website, representatives of the "January 25th coalition" told a press conference on Monday that they do not agree to the army's call that the demonstrations and protests be stopped.

The coalition called on the Egyptian army to dismiss the cabinet, whose members belong to the National Democratic Party of deposed President Hosni Mubarak, and to ensure democratic reforms. They also called on the army to establish a government of technocrats within a month, to be headed by "a patriotic citizen whom people respect and trust."

The demand issued yesterday marks the first public response from those who started the revolution to the army's announcement that the cabinet in its current makeup, which Mubarak had set up in a desperate attempt to hold on to power, would remain in office until a new government is formed.

Delegates from the coalition are to meet again today with representatives of the military council; their first meeting took place on Sunday. The coalition representatives said Sunday's meeting amounted to an exchange of opinions rather than negotiations.

Other ongoing demands of the coalition, which were formulated in a position paper released in the press yesterday, include the following: lifting the state of emergency; cancelling military laws and special courts; dismantling Mubarak's National Democratic Party and nationalizing all of its assets; dismantling the hated state security apparatus; and releasing all political prisoners.

The coalition is also seeking repeal, within 10 days, of the law restricting the establishment of new political parties, along with a new law that ensures political rights.

The group also called on the army to respect past court rulings, which Mubarak had ignored, including the order to stop the export of natural gas to Israel. The export of natural gas to Israel at what is widely described as a "ridiculously low price" represented a major loss to the Egyptian treasury.

Yesterday was a national holiday in Egypt, as in other Muslim countries, in honor of the birthday of the Prophet Mohammed. It was welcomed by the activists of the "youth revolution," much in need of a rest after three intense weeks of protest. Activists say many got sick at the beginning of the week with the flu, fever and muscle pain, finally able to allow the tension to express itself in physical symptoms.

The holiday temporarily delayed the expected confrontation between the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces now running the country (which has called for an end to strikes and demonstrations ) and workers from dozens of factories. The latter have already begun striking with various demands, such as salary increases and the dismissing of directors.

Schools in Egypt are expected to reopen on Saturday, considered a return to normal which people are looking forward to with both curiosity and trepidation - wondering how, if at all, schools will adjust to the change.

The Central Bank of Egypt has ordered banks to remain closed today, in response to strikes threatened by employees of some banks.

Yesterday evening, a rumor had spread via Facebook and text messages that Mubarak was dead. "Our first slogan was 'the people want the regime to fall.' Gradually we forgot it and concentrated on Mubarak," a university lecturer and activist told Haaretz yesterday. "What is important is not his personal fate, but the democratic changes the country will undergo."