A night of clashes and confrontations in Cairo’s Tahrir Square greeted a military promise for a swifter handover to civilian rule.
Although there had been a pledge for elections for a civilian president by June, few seemed convinced by Field Marshal Mohamed Tantawi’s earlier faltering televised address.
“The army do not aspire to govern and puts the supreme interest of the country above all considerations,” said Tantawi. “The army is completely ready to hand over responsibility immediately, and to return to its original mission to protect the nation if the nation wants that, via a popular referendum, if needs be.”
Long into the night small groups on the fringes skirmished with police in clouds of tear-gas.
Many of the young demonstrators see the idea of a referendum as a ploy to appeal to those Egyptians who fear further upheaval.