Egypt's premier calls for dialogue to end crisis
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Egypt's military-appointed prime minister on Thursday called for national dialogue to resolve the country's political crisis and pleaded for a two-month calm to restore security after weeks of protests and bloodshed.
Kamal el-Ganzouri also told a news conference that the ruling military, which took over from longtime leader Hosni Mubarak 10 months ago, was eager to relinquish power and deliver the country to civilian rule, as demanded by some activists and those still staging protesters in the streets around Cairo's Tahrir Square.
"They want to leave today, not tomorrow", he said without elaborating.
Few, if any, of the activists demanding an immediate end to military rule are likely to take up the offer of dialogue. Instead, they are focused on finding ways to persuade and pressure the generals to quickly step aside, such as offering them immunity from prosecution over the deaths of protesters killed in recent clashes with soldiers and police.
At least 100 people have been killed in such confrontations and in sectarian violence since the military took power in February.
The deaths, coupled with the brutality shown by army troops against protesters, including women, have prompted some activists to consider suing the generals in local courts or having them put on trial before the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands.
For months, activists have criticized the generals' handling of the country during the tumultuous transition, taking aim in particular at their human rights record and their failure to revive the economy or restore security.
Under the military's own timetable for stepping aside, it has pledged to hold presidential elections before the end of June 2012. Staggered parliamentary elections are already under way, with two rounds of voting held. A third and final round is slated for early next month.
The 78-year-old el-Ganzouri, who was appointed by the military last month in a failed attempt to quiet protests, is a veteran of the Mubarak regime. He served in several Cabinet posts for more than a decade before a previous stint as prime minister that began in 1996.
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