13 Feb 2011

Cairo's Tahrir Square cleared of protesters

10:01 pm on 13 February 2011

Egypt's army is clearing Cairo's Tahrir Square of protesters who have been camped there for 20 days, vowing not to move until reforms are implemented.

The square was the focal point of the uprising that led to President Hosni Mubarak's departure on Friday, drawing crowds several hundred thousand strong.

But by Sunday morning their numbers had dwindled and traffic was flowing again.

Although there were reports of scuffles between soldiers and die-hard protesters in Tahrir Square on Sunday morning, the BBC reports the operation to clear the area was being conducted unprovocatively.

Throughout the weekend, an army of volunteers and municipal workers has cleared away debris from the streets.

Military to work towards 'peaceful transition'

US President Obama has welcomed the new military leadership's pledge to work towards a peaceful transition to civilian rule.

In a statement read out on state TV on Saturday, the army said it had asked the current government to stay on until a new one was formed.

The military also reaffirmed the country's commitment to all its international treaties.

In a televised statement entitled 'Communique Number 4', the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces also said that the current government would remain in place temporarily until a new one could be sworn in.

The ABC reports the junta also vowed to oversee a peaceful transition to civilian rule.

The announcement was made as Egyptians celebrated after 18 days of protests. Mr Mubarak's resignation was announced on Friday night.

The military council said it would "pave the way for an elected civil authority to build a free democratic state", although it set no official timetable.

The council went on to say it would remain committed to all its regional and international treaties, implicitly confirming that Egypt's 1979 peace treaty with Israel would remain intact.

The anti-government protests began on 25 January.

The Muslim Brotherhood has again said it is not seeking power and will not put forward a presidential candidate at the promised elections in September.

Meanwhile, three senior officials close to Mr Mubarak have been banned from foreign travel.

They are former Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif, former Interior Minister Habib al-Adli and Information Minister Anas al-Fekky.

State TV said the men were under investigation, but no more details were available.

US welcomes announcement

US President Barack Obama has welcomed the Egyptian military's announcement that it is committed to moving towards a civilian led government.

He said that democracy in Egypt will bring more, not less stability to the Middle East.

Mr Obama has sent America's top military officer, Admiral Mike Mullen to Jordan and Israel to meet with leaders there on a mission of reassurance for two key American allies in the Middle East reports the BBC.