As Egyptians got out of work Tuesday, tens of thousands streamed into Tahrir Square, where whiffs of tear gas from clashes nearby made protesters sneeze and tear up. With battles raging just blocks away, hundreds of people were left unconscious from tear gas inhalation. In some parts of the square, though, the mood was jovial.
The protests have swelled in size in the past four days, posing the greatest threat to Egypt’s military leaders since Hosni Mubarak’s ousting last February.
The military council has promised to hand over power to a civilian government no later than July 1, 2012, according to state news agency MENA. That date is significantly earlier than expected. The AP reports that Egypt’s military council is even floating the idea of a referendum on an immediate power transfer.
Below, listen to a live update from Tahrir Square:
In the square, Mohammed Tarek,19, an English student, was doing an improv skit in which he mimicked a state television anchor and a government official who switched sides only after the revolution succeeded.
“Respect our revolution, it is like prophetic miracle,” he said.
Shortly after 4:30 p.m. local time, a man in a green uniform appeared on a third story balcony overlooking Tahrir Square and pumped his fists in the air as protesters erupted in cheers. Demonstrators said the man was an army officer who was turning against the military council. It was not clear who the man was or whether he in fact was an army officer.
Reports came in that Internet had been cut in Tahrir:
And that the ruling military council, the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF), was put further on the defensive:
SCAF decided late Tuesday to replace police forces guarding the Ministry of Interior with military forces, according to al-Jazeera.
Follow more updates here: