Cairo, March 4 (DPA) Egypt’s newly-appointed Prime Minister Essam Sharaf told tens of thousands of activists and demonstrators gathered in central Cairo’s Tahrir square Friday that the people are the source of his legitimacy.
“I derive my legitimacy from you,” he told the packed square. “There is no other place one can derive determination and strong will from,” he said, referring to the square, which has been the focal point of calls for reform and change.
Sharaf, in his second day on the job, was appointed by the armed forces, now in control of the country, after opposition forces recommended his name to the post.
He takes over after Ahmed Shafiq resigned following weeks of protests, with activists demanding a purge of all ministers appointed by the former president Hosny Mubarak.
Sharaf, a professor of civil engineering at Cairo University, is known among opposition circles for his “good reputation” and was reported to have been seen protesting in Tahrir Square against Mubarak prior to his resignation Feb 11, after nearly 30 years of rule.
On Friday, the thousands who headed to Tahrir Square were celebrating Sharaf’s appointment.
They also continued their calls for the release of political prisoners and want the military to dissolve the controversial State Security Investigations Service, which was responsible for much of the deadly violence against protesters that left over 350 people
“I pray to see Egypt a free country, where expressing opinion does not lead to prison and where security serves the people. Help us reach this,” Sharaf said, as the crowd shouted “the people want to bring down the State Security Service.”
After Sharaf finished his speech, he was carried over the shoulders of several demonstrators. He then walked in the square, amid chants, such as “Lift your head up high, you are Egyptian” and “Tahrir salutes you Essam”.
A number of activists are now calling on Sharaf to oversee the coming period of transition to democracy. They are calling for the disbanding of Mubarak’s National Democratic Party, the removal of a controversial emergency law, and the formation of a committee draft a new constitution, rather than just amend the current one.
The Higher Council of the Egyptian Armed Forces suspended the constitution after it took control of the country and promised to hold elections within six months. A judicial committee was formed to oversee amendments of only six articles in the constitution.