of Egyptian state employees, from ambulance drivers to policemen and transport
workers, protested in Cairo to demand better pay and conditions in a wave of labour
unrest unleashed by the uprising that ousted President Hosni Mubarak.
The Central Bank of Egypt ordered
banks across the country closed following a strike by employees of the National
Bank, the largest state bank.
Today, Tuesday is a national
holiday in Egypt to mark the birth of Islam’s 7th century Prophet Muhammad. The
banks are now scheduled to reopen Wednesday.
The stock market, however, will
stay closed Wednesday and Thursday, the final weekday in Egypt.
A previous announcement had said it would
reopen Wednesday, ending a three-week closure that began after the market lost
almost 17 per cent of its value in two days of trading in late January.
The ruling military council that
took over power from Mubarak on Friday has said that security and a return to
normalcy are among its top priorities.
It has called on Egyptians to return to work
to save the economy after the 18 days of protests sent hundreds of thousands of
foreign tourists fleeing the country in hurried evacuation flights — a major
blow to the country’s biggest economic sector.
The military defended the caretaker
government led by Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq and stocked with Mubarak
loyalists as necessary for now in the interests of stability but pledged to
soon change it, according to Ghonim and another protester, Amr Salama.
“They said they will go after
corrupt people no matter what their position current or previous,” the
posted statement added.
Amendments to the much-reviled
constitution will be prepared by an independent committee over the next 10 days
and then presented for approval in a popular referendum to be held in two
months, they said.