Egypt's military dissolves parliament

Egypt's military rulers have dissolved the country's parliament and suspended the constitution, meeting two key demands of pro-democracy protesters in the wake of President Hosni Mubarak's ouster.

Army leadership also suspends constitution, meeting protesters' demands

Egyptian soldiers try to clear opposition protesters from a road in Tahrir Square in Cairo on Sunday. The soldiers moved in on protesters as traffic started flowing through the square again for the first time in more than two weeks. ((Dylan Martinez/Reuters))

Egypt's military rulers have dissolved the country's parliament and suspended the constitution, meeting two key demands of pro-democracy protesters in the wake of President Hosni Mubarak's ouster.

In their latest communique released Sunday, the military leaders who took power when Mubarak stepped down Friday said they will run the country for six months, or until presidential and parliament elections can be held.

The communique said the military leadership would form a committee to amend the constitution and set the rules for popular referendum to endorse the amendments.

On the streets, Egyptian soldiers have been trying to clear the protest camp set up in the square in central Cairo, the scene of anti-government protests, but there has been resistance.

Soldiers scuffled with protesters as they tried to move the remaining few thousand hardcore protesters into one corner of Tahrir Square or onto sidewalks to allow traffic to move through the area.

There were heated exchanges, but the process was generally peaceful. Many local residents also shouted at demonstrators that it was time to leave. However, several protesters could be seen streaming back into the square.

"There's a jumble of traffic trying to get through the square, and now there's hundreds of protesters who have remained, being joined by hundreds of others," CBC's Nahlah Ayed said.

Soldiers remove tents of protesters from Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo on Sunday. ((Hussein Malla/Associated Press))

Ramy Mohammed, who has been camped on the square since the protests began on Jan. 25, said some troops beat the protesters with sticks as they tried to clear the square.

"We were chanting peacefully," the 28-year-old said. "They wanted to remove the tents but we still need guarantees."

Elsewhere in the city, life appeared to be largely returning to normal as Egyptians ushered in a second day in nearly 30 years without Mubarak as their ruler.

Egypt's military rulers, who are now in charge, have promised to abide by the peace treaty with Israel and eventually hand over power to an elected government.

At the same time, a coalition of youth and opposition groups that was the driving force of the movement called for weekly mass demonstrations every Friday to keep pressure on the military leadership to keep their promises for reform.

With Mubarak gone, Egypt's future will likely be shaped by three powers: the military, the protesters, and the sprawling autocratic infrastructure of Mubarak's regime that remains in place, dominating the bureaucracy, the police, state media and parts of the economy.

Coalition presents demands

The coalition behind the protests issued a list of demands: lifting of emergency law; creation of a presidential council, made up of a military representative and two "trusted personalities"; the dissolving of the ruling party-dominated parliament; and the forming of a broad-based unity government and a committee to either amend or completely rewrite the constitution.

The Armed Forces Supreme Council is now the official ruler after Mubarak handed it power on Friday. It consists of the commanders of each military branch, the chief of staff and Defence Minister Hussein Tantawy.

The military seized power after pleas from protesters, and it has repeatedly promised to ensure democratic change, making it highly popular with the movement.

But on the face of it, the elderly generals are not reformers, and their move to push out Mubarak may have been more to ensure the survival of a ruling system the military has been intertwined with since a 1952 army coup.

Blair urges 'sensible approach' to Muslim Brotherhood

In an interview on Sunday, former British prime minister and current Middle East peace envoy Tony Blair said the West should remain sensible and be neither complacent nor "hysterical" about Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood.

The group, once banned in Egypt, has now resurfaced as a major opposition force during Mubarak's ouster.

"They are not terrorists or extremists," Blair told the BBC, though he added the Brotherhood is not his ideal political party.

Blair also called Mubarak's departure "a moment of huge exhiliration" for democracy, economic change and social reform.

But he also tempered those comments with recognition for Mubarak's role as a key partner in the Mideast peace process.

"You can't invite him to the White House five months ago — and I was there with President Obama as a partner in peace — and then simply forget all that," Blair said.

"He was a force for stability in the region and the peace process. There were economic changes in Egypt that were beneficial over the past years."

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With files from The Associated Press