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Egypt's armed forces pledged not to fire on peaceful demonstrators on Monday as thousands of people, freed from fear after decades of oppression, tried to press home their campaign to oust President Hosni Mubarak.
The military command, which may be keener to preserve a 60-year-old system of army-backed government than to prolong the personal rule of the 82-year-old Mubarak, issued a statement on Monday calling protesters' demands "legitimate" and promising not to use force against people expressing themselves peacefully.
In its first formal comment on events on Monday, the armed forces command issued a statement calculated for popular appeal. "The armed forces will not resort to use of force against our great people," it said, though it would stop looters.
"Your armed forces, who are aware of the legitimacy of your demands and are keen to assume their responsibility in protecting the nation and the citizens, affirms that freedom of expression through peaceful means is guaranteed to everybody."
As anti-government demonstrations persist across Egypt and the country's military firmly puts its boots on the ground to establish order, the army said it won't deploy "violence" against the people.
A military spokesman said on state TV Monday that "freedom of opinion in a peaceful manner is allowed for all" and the "armed forces are aware of the legitimate demands of the honest citizens."
"The presence of the armed forces in the Egyptian streets is for your benefit to protect your safety and peace," said the spokesman for the army, which has been regarded favorably by many protesters who despise the police and see that institution as an ally.
The armed forces "will not use violence against this great people which have always played a significant role in every moment of Egypt's great history. And we reassure the armed forces are a force of stability and security for this great nation. The protection of the people is one of its core values," the spokesman said.
The political forces aligned against President Hosni Mubarak appeared to strengthen sharply Monday when the Army said for the first time that it would not fire on the protesters who have convulsed Egypt for a week demanding his resignation. The announcement was shortly followed by the government’s first offer to talk to the protest leaders.
The offer of talks, delivered via Egypt’s new vice -president, said he had been authorized to open a dialogue with the opposition for constitutional and political reforms. The vice president, Omar Suleiman, did not offer any further details.
...The military’s announcement followed a cabinet reshuffle by Mr. Mubarak that the opposition dismissed as window dressing, and as concerns over violence were heightened by the presence of security police officers clustered near the square’s entrances, their first deployment there in three days.
The Egyptian army has said it would not use force against citizens staging protests to force President Hosni Mubarak to step down
In a statement on Monday it said "freedom of expression" was guaranteed to all citizens using peaceful means.
It was the first such explicit confirmation by the army that it would not fire at demonstrators who have taken to the streets of Egypt and comes a day before before Tuesday's "march of millions" to mark the seventh day of the protests as anti-government sentiment reaches fever pitch.
Originally posted by BobLeeSwagger
Good for them! The same would happen here if the military were ever told to police the streets. Guaranteed they would side with the citizens before taking harmful action against us during protests. Hope it never has to be proven, but it would take foreign troops to squash something of that nature on US soil. Guess we'll find out if they ever cancel American Idol.