News from Egypt and Libya

Submitted by Matthew on 20 July, 2011 - 12:50

In Egypt, exasperation with the military council which has ruled the country since the revolution pushed out former dictator Hosni Mubarak on 11 February has spilled out onto the streets.

People have been camping out in Cairo's Tahrir Square since 8 July, and there have also been big protests in Suez.

The military and the government have responded with some concessions:

• Fired more than 600 senior police officers;

• Postponed the scheduled parliamentary elections from September to November (this has been a demand of the left and liberals, worried that only the Muslim Brotherhood will be able to organise well in time for earlier elections);

• Imposed limits on the committee set to create a new constitution;

• Sacked half the cabinet, and appointed 15 new ministers.

Protesters are still demanding other moves, including the end of military tribunals for civilians, and a quicker trial of Mubarak.

As of 19 July, rebel forces in Libya are reported to have taken the important oil centre of Brega. Both the rebels and the big powers seem increasingly confident that Qaddafi is on the way out.

On 19 July, the US government said it was "time to recognise the Transitional National Council [in Benghazi] as the official voice of the Libyan people".

The Libyan rebels will have to be wary of moves by NATO to use the military help it has given the rebels as a lever for power to shape a post-Qaddafi government.

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