Video: Egyptian protesters demand civilian rule

  1. Transcript of: Egyptian protesters demand civilian rule

    BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: Now we turn overseas. Emotions are running high and it's violent in around Cairo 's Tahrir Square . Some protesters, as you may know, are calling this fight the second revolution. It's between the people and the military in a country that remains in deep crisis. Meanwhile, there are new developments involving three American students who found themselves caught up in the middle of it all. For the latest we want to turn to NBC 's Ayman Mohyeldin tonight. Ayman , good evening.

    AYMAN MOHYELDIN reporting: Good evening, Brian . They are reminiscent scenes from Egypt 's 18 day revolution. The tents are back up. It's part carnival, part demonstration, but all politics. And there is an uneasy calm across the country tonight, but how long will the standoff between the military and the protesters last? They came to Tahrir Square in the hundreds of thousands, part of a nationwide protest to, quote, "save Egypt 's revolution." More than a million people estimated across the country, including in the coastal city of Alexandria and elsewhere. Deadly street fights now giving way to a political showdown. Under mounting domestic pressure and growing international criticism, including from the White House , Egypt 's military rulers appointed a new prime minster on Friday. Kamal Ganzouri , a 78-year-old politician, once served as prime minister in the former regime of ousted President Hosni Mubarak . That's why this woman tells me the new apportionment represents the past. 'Why is the military not reaching out to our new young leaders,' she asks. 'It's a new prime minister but the same old problem,' he says. 'The military won't give up power.' There may be a lot of differences in this square, but the one thing everyone

    agrees about is clearly spelled on these posters: an end to military rule . That's not lost on the new prime minister, who spoke publicly for the first time today.

    Mr. KAMAL GANZOURI:

    MOHYELDIN: 'The military isn't seeking to continue being in power. If I knew they were seeking power, I would not have accepted,' he told a reporter. Meanwhile, the intimidation of foreign journalists and the harassment of women continues. Prominent Egyptian-American activist Mona Eltahawy , arrested during this week's clashes, was sexually assaulted and had both arms broken while in police custody.

    Ms. MONA ELTAHAWY: My detention and many other detentions are a reminder that the brutality of the security forces goes unchecked. And that, for me, is a failure of the role of the supreme council of armed forces .

    MOHYELDIN: And late tonight, three American University students who were arrested and accused of attacking security forces were released and are now flying back to the US. But in Cairo , people are still anxious. Egypt 's parliamentary elections are scheduled to begin on Monday but it may be several months before the military is ready to hand over any real power to the people. All eyes now turn to the critical vote on Monday that kicks off the parliamentary elections. But the key post of a presidency will not be filled at least until the middle of 2012 . Back to you, Brian .

    WILLIAMS: NBC 's Ayman Mohyeldin on the scene for us tonight. Thanks

msnbc.com news services
updated 11/26/2011 1:05:53 AM ET 2011-11-26T06:05:53

Tens of thousands of Egyptians demanding an end to military rule converged on Cairo's Tahrir square Friday, while the White House hardened its rhetoric, urging Egypt's military to give way "as soon as possible" to full civilian rule.

"Full transfer of power to a civilian government must take place in a just and inclusive manner that responds to the legitimate aspirations of the Egyptian people, as soon as possible," said White House press secretary Jay Carney.

The military men who took over after people power toppled President Hosni Mubarak on February 11 are themselves under fire from protesters who accuse them of clinging to power, leading to street battles that look like a replay of February's unrest.

The ruling army council named Kamal el-Ganzouri, 78, who served as prime minister under Mubarak from 1996 to 1999, to head a national salvation government. Prime Minister Essam Sharaf's cabinet resigned earlier this week amid the protests.

El-Ganzouri said the military has given him greater powers than his predecessor and that military ruler Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi has no intention of staying in power.

'Illegitimate'
In a televised new conference, the 78-year-old prime minister looked uncomfortable, grasping for words and repeatedly pausing.

"Illegitimate, illegitimate!" chanted the crowds at Cairo's Tahrir Square on hearing news of el-Ganzouri's appointment late on Thursday.

American filmmaker in Cairo tells of arrest ordeal

"Not only was he prime minister under Mubarak, but also part of the old regime for a total of 18 years," said protester Mohammed el-Fayoumi, 29. "Why did we have a revolution then?"

The United States, long a bedrock supporter of Egypt's military, earlier called on the generals to step aside "as soon as possible" and give real power to the new cabinet "immediately."

The military rulers say they are working on a transition of power, including parliamentary elections set for Monday, which could be overshadowed if violence continues. Some protesters say the army cannot be trusted to hold a clean vote.

US woman: I was sexually assaulted by Egypt police

Protesters chanted "leave, leave!" as they gathered in Tahrir Square on Friday.

The rally is dubbed by organizers as "The Last Chance Million-Man Protest," and comes one day after the military offered an apology for the killing of nearly 40 protesters in clashes on side streets near Tahrir over the last week.

Image: Protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square
Bernat Armangue  /  AP
Protesters chant slogans in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Friday.

Pro-reform leader and Nobel peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei was among those in the square.

"He is here to support the revolutionaries," said protester Ahmed Awad, 35. "He came to see for himself the tragedy caused by the military."

Swelling crowds of demonstrators chanted, "The people want to bring down the marshal", in reference to Tantawi, who took over the reins of power from Mubarak.

A truce between security forces and hard-line protesters brought a nervous calm to the streets near Tahrir on Thursday after five days of clashes that turned part of the capital into a battle zone and left residents choking in clouds of tear gas.

The army council said it was doing all it could to prevent more violence, offered condolences and compensation to families of the dead and a swift enquiry into who caused the unrest.

But reports of unjustified police brutality that have swollen the ranks of protesters continue to filter out in the media.

American students freed, leaving Egypt
Also Friday, three American students arrested during a protest in Cairo were released and two were on their way home by early Saturday morning.

They were arrested on the roof of a university building near Cairo's iconic Tahrir Square last Sunday. Officials accused them of throwing firebombs at security forces fighting with protesters.

Luke Gates left Cairo early Saturday morning on a flight to Frankfurt, Germany, an airport official said in Cairo. Gates, 21, is a student at Indiana University.

"I am pleased and thankful to report that Gregory Porter is in the air. He has departed Egyptian airspace and is on his way home," Porter's attorney, Theodore Simon, said Friday. Simon did not give an estimate of when Porter, a student at Drexel University in Philadelphia, would arrive in the U.S.

The third, Derrik Sweeney, was expected to depart by later Saturday morning, the airport official said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief reporters.

Joy Sweeney told the AP her son, a 19-year-old Georgetown University student from Jefferson City, Mo., would fly from Frankfurt to Washington, then on to St. Louis. She said family will meet him when he arrives late Saturday.

"I am ecstatic," Sweeney said Friday. "I can't wait for him to get home tomorrow night. I can't believe he's actually going to get on a plane. It is so wonderful."

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

Photos: Protests continue in Egypt

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  1. People take part in Friday prayers in Cairo's Tahrir Square before a mass rally on Nov. 25. Thousands of Egyptians continue to occupy the square ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for Nov. 28. (Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Egyptian protesters pray during a march in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Nov. 25. Egypt's ruling military council appointed Kamal Ganzouri on Friday as prime minister to form "a national salvation government" to replace the cabinet that resigned earlier in the week. (Esam Omran Al-Fetori / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Supporters of the Egyptian Armed Forces shout slogans and wave Egyptian national flags on a road near the defence ministry, headquarters of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, at Abbasiya square in Cairo Nov. 25. More than 5,000 pro-army Egyptians rallied as Egypt's military rulers named a veteran politician as prime minister in an attempt to quell mass protests that have killed 41 people.

    Story: Egypt military woos public to keep power (Amr Abdallah Dalsh / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Volunteers clean up garbage and rocks on Nov. 24 after clashes in Alexandria, Egypt. Protesters and police observed a truce after violence that killed 39 people in five days. (Mohamed Abd El Ghany / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. A riot policeman fires a gun, allegedly at protesters, during clashes on a side street near Tahrir Square. (Goran Tomasevic / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Wounded protesters are driven away to a makeshift hospital in Tahrir Square on Nov. 23. (Andre Pain / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. A protester wears a gas mask, goggles and a pail to protect himself from tear gas canisters lobbed by riot police during clashes near Tahrir Square on Nov. 23. (Amr Abdallah Dalsh / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. An Egyptian soldier tries to keep thousands of protesters away from riot policemen during a demonstration in Tahrir Square during the fourth day of clashes with security forces on Nov. 22. Demonstrators are demanding an end to military rule, heightening tension after days of deadly clashes that threaten to derail next week's legislative polls. (Khaled Desouki / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Egypt's Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, longtime defence minister who is now the country's de facto ruler, addresses the nation in a televised speech in Cairo on Nov. 22. The head of Egypt's ruling military council accepted the cabinet's resignation and said the military was ready to hold a referendum for immediate transfer of power. (Egyptian state TV / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. A protester displays empty tear gas canisters as others chant slogans during clashes with riot police in Cairo on Nov. 22. (Mohamed Abd El Ghany / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Protesters carry a wounded comrade to a nearby hospital on a motorcycle during a demonstration by tens of thousands of Egyptians in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Nov. 22. (Khaled Desouki / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Protesters pack Cairo's Tahrir Square on Nov. 22 as clashes between police and protesters demanding democratic change entered a fourth day. (Khaled Desouki / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Protesters take shelter behind a wall during clashes with riot police on a side street near Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, on Tuesday, Nov. 22. Egyptians frustrated with military rule battled police in the streets as the generals scrambled to cope with the cabinet's proffered resignation after bloodshed that has jolted plans for the country's first free election in decades. (Goran Tomasevic / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Riot police stand behind flames from molotov cocktails during clashes with protesters on a side street near Tahrir Square on Nov. 22. (Goran Tomasevic / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. An ambulance makes its way through thousands of protesters as they attend a funeral of a victim of earlier clashes in Tahrir Square on Nov. 22. (Khaled Desouki / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. A riot police officer fires tear gas during clashes with protesters near Tahrir Square on Nov. 22. (Khalil Hamra / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. A protester throws a tear gas canister, which was earlier thrown by riot police during clashes along a road which leads to the Interior Ministry, near Tahrir Square on Nov. 22. (Amr Abdallah Dalsh / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Protesters carry a wounded man during clashes with riot police near Tahrir Square on Nov. 22. (Khalil Hamra / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. People carry the body of a protester who was killed in clashes with the riot police during his funeral in Tahrir Square on Nov. 22. (Khalil Hamra / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Protesters clash with riot police in Alexandria on Nov. 21. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Protesters stand in line to protect the field hospital in Tahrir Square, Cairo, on Nov. 21. (Mohamed Hossam / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Protesters run from tear gas fired by riot police during clashes in Tahrir Square on Nov. 21. (Amr Abdallah Dalsh / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. An injured protester is helped away during clashes with security forces in Tahrir Square on Nov. 21. (Khaled Desouki / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Protesters throw stones at riot police firing tear gas and rubber bullets near Tahrir Square on Nov 21. (Goran Tomasevic / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. A protester winces after being exposed to tear gas during clashes near Tahrir Square in Cairo on Nov. 21. (Asmaa Waguih / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. A riot policeman aims a shotgun with rubber bullets at protesters, next to a plainclothes policeman during clashes in Cairo on Nov. 21. (Goran Tomasevic / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Protesters carry a man injured during clashes with riot police in Cairo on Nov. 21. (Goran Tomasevic / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. A protester stands on top of a burned car in a Cairo street on Nov. 21. (Khalil Hamra / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. An Egyptian protester hurls a tear gas canister back at security forces as others run for cover on the third day of clashes at Tahrir Square in Cairo on Nov. 21. (Mohammed Hossam / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. Two Egyptian protesters help a man overcome with tear gas during clashes in Tahrir square, in Cairo, Egypt, on Nov. 21. (Mohammed Abu Zaid / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. An Egyptian protester sprays water on the eyes of a fellow demonstrator after tear gas was fired by security forces in Tahrir Square on Nov. 21. (Mohammed Hossam / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. Canadian volunteer nurse, Merikel, right, helps an Egyptian medical team treat an injured protester at a field hospital at Tahrir Square in Cairo on Nov. 21. (Amr Nabil / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. A protester climbs a burned building to rescue residents trapped by fire during clashes with police in Cairo on Nov. 21. (Goran Tomasevic / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. An Egyptian protester shouts during clashes with security forces at Tahrir Square in Cairo on Nov. 21. (Mohammed Hossam / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  35. Firemen try to put out a fire started by protesters during clashes with police in front of the Security Administrative building in Alexandria, Egypt, on Sunday, Nov. 20. (Stringer / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  36. A protester overcome by tear gas kneels in the middle of the street during clashes with Egyptian riot police near the interior ministry downtown Cairo, Egypt, on Nov. 20. (Tara Todras-whitehill / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  37. Egyptians protesters are pushed away by security forces during clashes in Cairo on Nov. 20. (Khaled Elfiqi / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  38. Protesters run from riot police spraying tear gas, during clashes near Tahrir Square in Cairo on Nov. 20. (Asmaa Waguih / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  39. A protester receives medical treatment at a field hospital after being wounded in clashes with Egyptian riot police in Cairo on Nov. 20. (Amr Abdallah Dalsh / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  40. Egyptian protesters are confronted by riot police firing rubber bullets and tear gas in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Nov. 19. (Khaled Desouki / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  41. Egyptian riot police clash with protesters in Tahrir Square in Cairo on Nov. 19, as Egyptian riot police dismantled a small tent city set up to commemorate revolutionary martyrs in Cairo's Tahrir Square. (Khalil Hamra / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  42. Egyptian youths attack a police vehicle in Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, Nov. 19. (Ahmed Khaled / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  43. Protesters chant slogans in Tahrir Square, the focal point of the uprising that ousted President Hosni Mubarak, in Cairo on Nov. 18. (Khalil Hamra / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  44. Egyptian protesters take over Tahrir Square in Cairo on Nov. 18. (Khaled Elfiqi / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
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