A civilian has replaced the military assistant general of the Matruh governorate following ongoing protests.
Since last Friday protesters from the Matruh governorate have been holding a sit-in outside the governorate building in the capital, Marsa Matruh. They are demanding the resignation of the governor, General Taha Mohamed Al-Sayed and the 17 generals who make up the leadership of the governorate.
The sit-in has enjoyed one great success since it started. Khaled Al-Seniny, spokesperson for the United Revolutionary Movement of Matruh (URMM), the group leading the sit-in, said the assistant general secretary of the governorate was transferred to Damietta, but replaced by a civilian.
According to Ahmed Fayek, a lawyer, a member of 6th April Movement and one of the protestors, the demonstrations have been staged every night. Fayek said they take to the streets at “6pm and demonstrate until 2am with numbers increasing to between 500-600 people throughout the night.” The 6th April Movement are part of the protests and have helped to organise and publicise the sit-in through their Facebook page. Al-Seniny said, “at the peak of the protests there are some 3000-4000 people.”
Matruh’s geographical location on the border with Libya makes it an important military zone and the governorate is staffed by military officers. Al-Seniny said what many of the protestors wanted to see was the “transfer from what is essentially a military ruled governorate to a monitored executive made up of civilians.”
Al-Seniny stated that no more military have been drafted in from other regions as there are already a large number of military personnel in Matruh. Fayek also observed “there has been very little media attention.” He also mentioned that some of the leaders of the April 6th Movement visited the sit-in on Friday night.
The sit-in has been peaceful, “the governor has not been prevented from entering the governorate building” according to Al-Saniny. The protest group is representative of many different groups from leftists to Islamists and the 6th April Movement. The sit-in was visited by the leader of the 6th April Movement, Ahmed Maher, leaders from the Matruh community and of the Freedom and Justice and Al-Nour Parties.
Governor Al-Sayed kept his post during President Morsy’s reshuffle of governors at the beginning of September. At that time ten governors were replaced by Morsy. The protesters are demanding for the resignation of the governor and the officials on the basis that they have failed to help the people in the Matruh region. There are a range of issues in Matruh that the “governor and the leadership have failed to address” Fayek said.
A list of the protesters demands were posted on the URMM Facebook page which, in addition to calls for “a civilian governor,” included, “clean[ing] the executive of corrupt people” and allowing the private ownership of land. They also demanded that “Jobs are secured for the sons of Matruh,” a problem that Al-Seniny said has a particular impact on the young and well educated. They also called for a “cleaner city”, “clean drinking water” and better medical facilities and medical specialists. The last demand on the list was for a “genuine security” presence in Matruh.
According to Fayek and Al-Saniny, the demonstration will continue every night until the governor resigns. Governor Al-Sayed’s office was not available for comment.