On December 19, Egypt’s Cabinet announced a raft of belt-tightening measures to cut public finance spending, in a seemingly panicked effort to stave off a financing crisis. The proposed reforms include cutting fuel subsidies for energy-intensive industries, postponing the application of a property tax for another year, and deferring a new law on social insurance and pensions until July 2013.
At least 12 people have been killed and hundreds more injured in clashes in downtown Cairo over the past three days. Violence broke out on December 16 when military forces guarding the Cabinet building near Tahrir Square cracked down on a three-week-old sit-in to call for a transfer of power to civilian leadership.
SCAF member Major General Adel Amara held a televised press conference on December 19 after overnight clashes in Tahrir Square, in which thousands of Central Security Forces encircled a crowd of outnumbered and unarmed protesters with batons.
The U.S. Congress is seeking to impose restrictions on military aid to Egypt in the 2012 omnibus spending bill unveiled on December 16, news that may not be welcomed by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which would prefer that its $1.3 billion dollar assistance package continue to flow freely without strings attached.
Activists on Twitter and on the Khaled Said Facebook page are starting to call for early presidential elections by January 25, "or it's gonna be bad," Mohamed Samir warned from Cairo. On December 18, the Khaled Said Facebook page suggested a radically shortened timeline for the presidential election, starting with polling on January 25, the announcement of results by February 2, and the inauguration on February 11.
Over the past two days, soldiers and military police have used almost everything within arm's reach -- fire hoses, batons, thrown rocks, furniture and glass projectiles -- to break up crowds in Tahrir Squre and outside of the Council of Ministers Building.
Field Marshal Field Marshal Tantawi has issued a "letter to the Egyptian people" expressing the SCAF's increasingly defensive posture, but at the same time appearing to yield ground to protesters by offering to immediately hand over power "if the people demand it through a legislative referendum."
Cairo has once again erupted in chaos in and around Tahrir as security forces under the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) sent troops to clear the "Occupy Cabinet" protests early Friday morning. Although the Egyptian Ministry of Health reports 99 wounded at the time of writing, activists in and around the cabinet building report approximately 160 wounded protesters being treated in makeshift field hospitals, ten of whom were apparently hit with live fire.
At least 173 “Occupy Cabinet” protesters were injured and two more killed as they clashed violently with military police trying to disperse a sit-in outside of the Council of Ministers Building. After protesters refused to vacate Qasr al-Aini Street, security forces used force to break up the sit-in with rocks and fire houses.