Egyptians protest against President despite ban

Wednesday, March 30, 2005 Hundreds of demonstrators have taken to the streets of cities across Egypt to protest against a possible fifth term of President Hosni Mubarak.

Activists are campaigning to prevent Mubarak from gaining another term after 24 years in power. They are also calling for his son Gamal not to stand in elections in September and also that reforms are made to the country's constitution.

Hundreds of Kifaya ("Enough") protesters were met by thousands of riot police in Cairo and were prevented from reaching the parliament buildings. Protests in Alexandria were called off after security forces sealed off all routes in to the area of the planned protest. People later said that the police allowed a pro-Mubarak rally shortly afterwards.

The security chief of Cairo has stated that the police will no longer tolerate such protests. He is quoted by BBC News as saying "If we are getting to the stage of getting used to violating [the rules], then the principle is that legal regulations must be implemented." Street demonstrations have been illegal since laws were enacted after the 1981 assassination of President Anwar Sadat.

One leader of Kifaya was reported as saying the large deployment of security personnel had turned Cairo into "a military zone".