CAIRO (AP) — Thousands of state employees, from ambulance drivers to police and bank workers, protested on Monday demanding better pay, in a growing wave of labor unrest rekindled by the democracy uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak's regime. Egypt's military rulers asked for an end to the protests in what could be a final warning before an outright ban.
The military said it needed calm to implement what it promises will be an eventual handover to civilian rule under a new, more democratic system. It has set a swift timetable, saying it aims to have constitutional amendments drawn up within 10 days and a referendum to approve them within two months ahead of elections for a civilian government, according to youth activists who met two of the top generals.
The coalition of young activists who organized the unprecedented protest movement pressured the military Monday for new steps to ensure the autocratic system that has pervaded Egypt for the past 30 years is dismantled. Protesters welcomed the military's takeover after Mubarak's resignation, but many remain wary of the military's ultimate intentions.
In a list of demands Monday, they called for the dissolving of Mubarak's National Democratic Party and for the creation within 30 days of a Cabinet of technocrats within 30 days. They want it to replace the current caretaker government, appointed by Mubarak after the protests erupted Jan. 25.
"It is unacceptable that the same government which caused this revolution with its corrupt ways oversees the transitional period," said Ziad al-Oleimi, a member of the coalition.
A number of youth organizers met Sunday with two generals from the Armed Forces Supreme Council, now the country's official ruler. They called the meeting positive and were further encouraged by the military's dissolving of parliament and canceling of the constitution Sunday, two of their top demands. The activists' coalition has called off its protests centered at downtown Tahrir Square for now as a gesture, and their camp has been cleared away by soldiers.