Military dissolves Egypt parliament

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An Egyptian family collects their belongings as soldiers dismantle tents in Tahrir Square, Cairo (AP)

Egypt’s military rulers are dissolving the parliament and suspending the constitution, meeting two key demands of pro-democracy protesters.

In their latest communique, the military leadership that took power when President Hosni Mubarak stepped down on Friday said they will run the country for six months, or until presidential and parliament elections can be held.

Earlier, the country’s prime minister said the caretaker government’s priority now is restoring security as the country moves from three decades of Mr Mubarak’s rule to a democracy.

Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq spoke at a news conference after the first Cabinet meeting since Mr Mubarak was forced to step down.

“Our concern now in the Cabinet is security, to bring security back to the Egyptian citizen,” he said.

Also on Sunday, the country’s military moved to restore order in Cairo after weeks of mass demonstrations, but troops faced some resistance as they tried to dismantle the protest camp at the heart of the protest movement.

Soldiers and military police took down the makeshift tents of protesters who had camped out in Tahrir, or Liberation, Square, but scuffles broke out with some young men who refused to leave. Many local residents also shouted at the protesters that it was time to go.

In the latest development the military leaders said they were forming a committee to amend the constitution and set the rules for a referendum to endorse the amendments.

Both the lower and upper houses of parliament are being dissolved. The last parliamentary elections in November and December were heavily rigged by the ruling party, virtually shutting out any opposition representation.

The caretaker Cabinet, which was appointed by Mr Mubarak shortly after the mass pro-democracy protests began on January 25, will remain in place until a new Cabinet in formed – a step that is not expected to happen until after elections.

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