Egypt army dissolves parliament, suspends constitution
New military rulers say will govern for only six months or until next elections; PM Shafiq says cabinet's concern is to 'return rights to the people and fight corruption.' As thousands of protesters stream back into Tahrir Square, police officers hold their own protests in demand of higher wages, immunity from prosecution. Egyptians take down unwanted Mubarak portraits
Egypt's new military rulers said on Sunday they had dissolved parliament, suspended the constitution and would govern only for six months or until elections took place, following the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak.
In a statement, the Higher Military Council which took over after 18 days of protest ended Mubarak's 30-year rule, promised a referendum on constitutional amendments.
It said it was forming a committee to amend the constitution and set the rules for popular 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.
Earlier, Egypt's prime minister said that the caretaker government's priority now was restoring security as the country transitioned from three decades of Hosni Mubarak's rule to a democracy.
Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq spoke at a news conference Sunday after the first cabinet meeting since Mubarak was forced to step down on Friday.
"Our concern now in the Cabinet is security, to bring security back to the Egyptian citizen," he said. "I guarantee that this (cabinet) will return rights to the people and fight corruption."
"We won’t rush to appoint new ministers but their absence won't harm the government's performance," Shafiq said, adding that he would not be appointing an information minister in the near future after accepting Anas el-Fiqqi's resignation.
Meanwhile Sunday, Egyptians began removing portraits of the ousted president which have hung in public and private institutions throughout his three decades in power.
The 82-year-old's picture was quietly taken down at the main cabinet office on Sunday, a Reuters witness said.
At the state press center, a large image of the toppled leader woven into a rug was taken away, an employee said.
Photographs of Mubarak also disappeared from luxury hotels.
While Mubarak's image was a common sight in Cairo, he never went to the lengths of other autocrats in the region, such as Iraq's former leader Saddam Hussein, who filled the country with his likeness in statues, portraits, monuments and on banknotes.
On Sunday morning, gunshots rang out near Egypt's Interior Ministry during a wage protest by hundreds of disgruntled policemen, witnesses said. A security guard said they were warning shots fired in the air.
The police force was pulled off the streets when it lost control of anti-government protests last month. Some have held their own protests and sit-ins since Mubarak's overthrow on Friday, demanding higher wages and immunity from prosecution.
"I've been working for 12 years and my salary is 678 pounds ($115)," said a policeman who gave his name only as Ayman.
"What do you want us to do? This guy (former Interior Minister Habib al-Adli) taught us to be cowards. Our police hospital is being used to treat businessmen and rich people."
Hisham, another low-ranking police officer, said he had served for 21 years and was paid 800 pounds a month.
"The high-ranking officers are the ones who used to get all privileges and we were left to starve. We were told if we don't like it, we can take money from the people," he said.
Tahrir Square, Sunday morning (Photo: Reuters)
Meanwhile, thousands of protesters streamed back into Tahrir Square on Sunday after the army sought to disperse them from the heart of Cairo where they have vowed to stay to hold the army to its promises of reform, witnesses said.
"The army and people are united" and "Revolution, revolution until victory," they chanted, after military police had earlier told them to take down tents and let normal life return.
As military police corralled protesters in the center of the square to allow traffic flow, protesters in other parts of the square guided cars. Some swept the ground and others painted curbs, which protesters say shows their desire to rebuild Egypt.
Roee Nahmias, Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report
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