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Thousands join Cairo democracy demo

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Egyptian protesters during a demonstration in Tahrir Square in Cairo (AP)

Egyptian protesters during a demonstration in Tahrir Square in Cairo (AP)

Protesters calling for democracy in Tahrir Square, Cairo (AP)

Protesters calling for democracy in Tahrir Square, Cairo (AP)

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Egyptian protesters during a demonstration in Tahrir Square in Cairo (AP)

Thousands of Egyptians have taken to the streets to demand justice for victims of Hosni Mubarak's regime and press the new military rulers for a clear plan of transition to democracy.

There is growing frustration among Egyptians that little has changed five months after the 18-day uprising forced the former president to step down on February 11.

Riots and protests have been escalating over what many see as the reluctance of the military rulers, who took over after Mubarak, to prosecute police and former regime officials for the killing of nearly 900 protesters during the uprising.

Many believe that although Mubarak and some much-hated figures under him are no longer in power, the pillars of his regime are still in place, including such key institutions as the judiciary, the police and civil service.

Earlier this week, seven policemen in the city of Suez were freed on bail during their trial for the killing of the protesters.

Their release set off two days of rioting by angry families who accused the judiciary of corruption. Other former regime officials were acquitted of corruption charges, also raising anger.

The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's most organised political group, and ultra-conservative Salafis decided at the last minute to join the protests.

In Cairo, thousands converged ahead of Friday prayers on the capital's landmark Tahrir square, the epicentre of the uprising, for the rally dubbed "Friday of Accountability." Protesters also gathered at main squares in Suez and Alexandria.

In an attempt to defuse the Egyptians' anger, a prosecutor on Thursday charged 25 Mubarak-era officials with manslaughter, attempted murder and assault for their part in organising a February attack on anti-regime protesters in which attackers on horses and camels charged into the crowds.

After Mubarak stepped down, the military rulers promised they would work to hold elections within six months and hand over power to a civilian government.

PA


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