Egypt protests: Masses demand reform in Tahrir Square

By Yolande Knell
BBC News, Cairo

Image caption,
Protesters expressed solidarity with their Libyan neighbours

Thousands of Egyptians have returned to Cairo's Tahrir Square to mark one month since the start of their uprising which toppled President Hosni Mubarak.

The protesters are enjoying a peaceful, carnival atmosphere, but they want to keep pressure on Egypt's new military rulers to make reforms.

They called for the emergency law to be repealed and political prisoners freed.

They also want members of Mr Mubarak's former government who make up the caretaker cabinet removed from power.

In recent days, several former ministers and prominent business people have been arrested on corruption charges.

And an announcement on proposed constitutional reforms is expected soon.

But demonstrators say they will continue to stage large rallies every Friday until all their demands are met.

The latest mass demonstration in Tahrir Square had a festive atmosphere, complete with popcorn, face-painting and music.

Protesters adapted their chants to show solidarity with those in neighbouring Libya. "Libya and Egypt are in one hand," they shouted, waving Libyan flags alongside Egyptian ones.

"We have to participate with Libya," said a souvenir T-shirt seller, Abdul Aziz Hegazi. "What's happening there is a disaster. People get killed in the street. Why is Gaddafi sticking to his chair like this? He needs to leave like Mubarak."

But they are also demanding key reforms at home.

"A lot of the laws that would ensure this revolution bears fruit haven't been implemented yet," said protester Ahmed Galal.

"There's also a lot of mistrust because the people who are responsible for implementing changes have been part of the regime for the past 30 years," he added.

"People are so frustrated because we have called for change not only of the president but the whole regime and the old regime is still there," added Hana Shams.

The protesters are demanding the replacement of the interim government of Prime Minister Ahmad Shafiq.

Even after a cabinet reshuffle on Wednesday, several Mubarak-era ministers remain, including the key portfolios of defence, interior, foreign affairs, and justice.

Mr Mubarak resigned on 11 February, forced out by 18 days of street protests.

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