Protesters decide to open Tahrir Square to traffic

Tahrir Square on Saturday was opened to traffic after having been blocked off since 18 November.

After a series of debates among themselves, the protesters themselves decided to open the square. Protesters have been staging a sit-in in the square since a bloody crackdown by security forces three weeks ago.

The protesters carried banners which read “the square is opened based on the revolutionaries’ decision.”

An eyewitness told Egypt Independent that negotiations among protesters whether to open the square did not take long.

Protesters have formed small units to direct traffic. Only Mohamed Mahmoud Street, which leads to the headquarters of the Ministry of Interior, is closed due to a barracks set up by the army.

A few protesters have remained in their tents in the roundabout in the middle of the square and in front of the Mogamma, a Stalin-esque administrative building overlooking the square.

Protesters had called for accelerating the transfer of power from the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to a national salvation government.

SCAF replied by appointing Kamal al-Ganzouri as prime minster two weeks ago to replace Essam Sharaf, whom protesters accused of being weak.

Ganzouri on Friday urged protesters in Tahrir and at the cabinet building to end their sit-in.

Fears erupted that the tiny number of protesters remaining in the square could become targets by either thugs or security forces in an attempt to clear the square.

Last week, some protesters moved their sit-in to the front of the cabinet building on Qasr al-Aini Street.

On 18 November, a million-strong march was held in Tahrir. Thousands of protesters  ̶ mostly Islamists  ̶ gathered in Tahrir to reject a constitutional document exempting the army from parliamentary oversight. The following day, the army and the police violently dispersed the few remaining protesters. Two protesters were killed and scores were injured.

The violence pushed Egyptians to return to the square to clash with police. In the ensuing violence, over 40 protesters died.

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