Egypt: Thousands Protest Against Military In Cairo's Tahrir Square
Thousands of protestors have filled Cairo's Tahrir Square in the latest demonstration against the military authorities in Egypt.
Organisers called Friday's protest in the capital 'the last chance million-man protest' as they demanded that the country's military rulers step aside after the latest wave of demonstrations that have left more than 40 people dead.
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) is overseeing the transition to civilian rule but many protestors believe the military will not cede power after next week's elections and are demanding the postponement of the vote until civilian rule is installed.
The protests have continued in spite of the ruling military regime selecting, Kamal el-Ganzouri, a Mubarak-era politician to act as prime minister and who insisted he has power to rule.
"I have asked Field Marshal [Hussein Tantawi] to give me time to appoint a Cabinet which satisfies all people," el-Ganzouri said, adding: "[SCAF] has given me all the authorities that could be given to a prime minister."
El-Ganzouri, 78, served as prime minister during the nineties, and is seen as part of the old guard by the protesters, who on hearing of his appointment, chanted "Illegitimate, illegitimate!" in Tahrir Square.
In a statement from the White House, the US government has called for power to be immediately transferred to the civilian authorities.
"The United States strongly believes that the new Egyptian government must be empowered with real authority immediately," the statement said. "We believe that Egypt's transition to democracy must continue, with elections proceeding expeditiously, and all necessary measures taken to ensure security and prevent intimidation.
"Most importantly, we believe that the 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."
The statement also expressed regret over those killed in the protests and urged the Egyptian authorities to "implement an independent investigation into the circumstances of those deaths."
Earlier, the Supreme Council apologised for those who had died, saying: "The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces presents its regrets and deep apologies for the deaths of martyrs from among Egypt's loyal sons during the recent events in Tahrir Square", but added that the elections, due to be held on Monday, would not be delayed.
Meanwhile, in Syria the 1pm deadline to agree to an Arab League ultimatum to accept 500 monitors passed without word from President Bashar al-Assad or his government.
Speaking to The Telegraph, an Arab League Source said the organisation is prepared to wait until the end of Friday before making a decision on economic sanctions.
"The deadline has already ended, but the Arab League leaves the door open for Syria to reply by the end of the day and if a positive Syrian response comes on Friday, then the Arab League has no objection to agreeing to it," he said.
However, in Damascus the state news agency is reporting that the League has become a "tool for foreign interference".
According to the UN, more than 3,500 people have died since the unrest began in March, while increasing pressure on the Assad regime from its neighbours has failed to quell the violence.
On Friday, the Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the country would not tolerate any more violence in Syria.
"If it doesn't, there are steps we can take in consultation with the Arab League," he told a news conference.
"I want to say clearly we have no more tolerance for the bloodshed in Syria. The attitude of friendly and fraternal countries on this subject is clear".