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Egyptian Military Dissolves Parliament

Egypt’s new military authorities say they are dissolving parliament and suspending the constitution.

In a statement on state TV, the higher military council said it would stay in power six months, or until elections, reports BBC.

Egypt’s current parliament is dominated by supporters of President Hosni Mubarak, who was ousted on Friday after 18 days of mass protests.

Earlier there were scuffles in Cairo’s Tahrir Square as protesters thwarted army efforts to remove them.

The military police chief has called for tents to be cleared from the area, the focal point of the uprising that led to Mubarak’s departure.

The BBC’s Wyre Davis in Cairo says the situation on the square has become a good-natured standoff, but protesters have vowed to stay night after night.

A statement was read out on state TV on Sunday from the Higher Military Council, saying it would suspend the constitution and set up a committee to draft a new one, before submitting it to a popular referendum.

The current constitution has prevented many parties and groups from standing in elections, leaving Egypt with a parliament packed with supporters of the National Democratic Party, loyal to Mubarak.

Our correspondent says the new announcement means elections could be held in July or August, instead of in September as planned.

The opposition’s Ayman Nour, who challenged Mubarak for the presidency in 2005, described the military leadership’s steps as a “victory for the revolution”, Reuters news agency reported.

Meanwhile, caretaker Prime Minister, Ahmed Shafiq said his main priority was to restore the country’s security.

Speaking earlier at a news conference, he said: “Our main concern now as a cabinet is security – we need to bring back a sense of security to the Egyptian citizen.

“Parallel to that we also want to ensure that the daily life of all Egyptians goes back to normal and that basic needs like bread and healthcare are available.”

He said that the country had enough reserves to weather the economic crisis, but that if instability continued there could be “obstacles”.

“Our internal economic position is solid and cohesive,” he said.

He also pledged to “return rights to the people and fight corruption”.

Tempers frayed on Sunday morning as protesters realised hundreds of policeman – who had become hugely unpopular for their violent attempts to suppress the uprising – had entered the square.

For a few minutes there was a tense stand-off as the two sides confronted each other, before the police march peeled away and left the square.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that 18 antiquities – including statues of King Tutankhamun – have been stolen from the Egyptian Museum during the unrest.

Meanwhile, the authorities imposed travel bans on three senior officials close to Mubarak.

They said former Prime Minister, Ahmed Nazif, former Interior Minister, Habib al-Adli and current Information Minister, Anas al-Fekky were under investigation.

Mubarak resigned on Friday after 18 days of protests, being flown to his luxury residence in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

-Punch

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