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Most of Monday's papers lead with the negative impact of Prime Minister Essam Sharaf's televised speech broadcast on Saturday night.
All headlines depict the Sharaf cabinet's tough situation after his failure to meet the demands of thousands of protesters holding sit-ins in different Egyptian cities since Friday.
For example, the main headline of the state-owned Al-Ahram daily reads: “Outrage intensifies and Sharaf’s cabinet awaits departure.” The paper says Tahrir Square protesters have called for massive protests on Tuesday and decided to call for civil disobedience and hunger strikes if the government keeps ignoring their demands.
A similar inflammatory headline, warning of a possible explosion, appears in privately-owned daily Al-Dostour: “The second revolution of anger spreads to ten governorates.” Yet the story itself mentions protests in only six cities - Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor, Suez, Mansoura and Assiut. The paper adds that Tahrir protesters are planning on marching to the cabinet headquarters on Tuesday to demand Sharaf's dismissal.
Hundreds of thousands took to the streets on Friday to express frustration with the course taken by the cabinet and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) during the transitional period. The driving force of the protests was the slow-paced trials of ex-officials and those who killed protesters during the revolution.
In an attempt to diffuse the tension, Sharaf announced Saturday that courts responsible for trying those accused of killing protesters and profiteering will focus only on these cases, which will expedite the process.
Sharaf also said that he had ordered the interior minister to suspend all police officers accused of murdering protesters during the 18-day uprising. He further said that he asked the social solidarity minister to examine portfolios of social justice including health, education, housing, salaries and prices. None of these pledges convinced protesters to halt sit-ins in several squares nationwide.
The April 6 Youth Movement had issued a statement acknowledging Sharaf’s decision to free courts to focus solely on investigating charges against accused officials, but it blamed the prime minister for failing to set a precise time frame for these trials. The group also stressed the need to purge the judiciary, the media and other state institutions; impose a minimum and maximum wage; provide unemployment compensation; hold public trials of former officials accused of killing protesters and corruption; and halt military trials of civilians.
The movement's statement criticized Sharaf for failing to take precise measures to prosecute Hosni Mubarak for killing protesters. Some political leaders warned yesterday that if the SCAF does not contain public outrage and meet protesters’ demands, the situation might worsen and the scope of dissent could widen.
According to the privately-owned daily Al-Shorouk, the SCAF is immersed in examining protesters’ demands. The paper quotes an anonymous military source as saying that the military is studying the possibility of fixing a minimum and maximum wage and purging the state of the remnants of Mubarak’s recently-dissolved National Democratic Party. As for expediting trials of former officials, the source told Al-Shorouk that the military does not want to interfere with the judiciary because unfair or politicized trials might discourage foreign governments from handing over assets the suspects hold abroad.
In the meantime, Al-Shorouk’s front page leads with a headline that depicts the impact of Sharaf’s statements, not on protesters, but on the police. “A rebellion within the Interior Ministry: Hundreds of officers go on strike and the (general) coalition (of police officers) to hold demonstrations to protest decision to suspend officers." The coalition spokesperson objected to Sharaf’s decision to suspend all officers accused of killing protesters before a court decides on the matter. Major Ahmed Ragab told the paper that many of these officers were defending police stations against thugs and assailants and did not kill protesters.
Prominent political analyst and party leader Amr Hamzawy compared Sharaf's speech to speeches of the former regime’s officials. In his daily column in Al-Shorouk, Hamzawy wrote: “This speech reminds us of the condescending tone of the former regime, which insisted on ignoring people’s demands even at the peak of the revolution.”
Al-Ahram: Daily, state-run, largest distribution in Egypt
Al-Akhbar: Daily, state-run, second to Al-Ahram in institutional size
Al-Gomhurriya: Daily, state-run
Rose al-Youssef: Daily, state-run
Al-Dostour: Daily, privately owned
Al-Shorouk: Daily, privately owned
Al-Wafd: Daily, published by the liberal Wafd Party
Al-Arabi: Weekly, published by the Arab Nasserist party
Youm7: Weekly, privately owned
Al-Tahrir: Daily, privately owned