- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 13, 2011

CAIRO Egypt’s government, meeting a key demand by protesters, fired nearly 700 top police officers Wednesday to cleanse the discredited and widely unpopular force, state television reported.

In another nod to demands by activists, Egypt’s military is delaying parliamentary elections initially expected to take place in September, Egypt’s state news agency said. The vote now is to be held in October or November, the report said.

Many of the political parties that arose from the Jan. 25-Feb. 11 uprising against Hosni Mubarak sought to delay the vote so they could compete more effectively against better prepared and financed Islamists, like the Muslim Brotherhood.

The military, which took control of the country when Mr. Mubarak stepped down, effectively announced the delay already Tuesday, saying preparations for the legislative election would begin Sept. 30.

The dismissal of 669 police officers was announced Wednesday by Interior Minister Mansour el-Issawi. It responds to one of the main demands of protesters camping out in Cairo’s central Tahrir Square.

The protesters want the police force to be purged of remnants of the Mubarak regime and officers involved in the killing of nearly 900 protesters during the uprising.

Egyptian state TV said that 37 of the dismissed officers face charges of killing protesters.

Among those dismissed were 505 major-generals, including 10 of the interior minister’s top assistants, 82 colonels and 82 brigadiers, the report said.

“This is the biggest administrative move … to bring new blood,” to the police force, Mr. el-Issawi said. He promised that police officers would be held accountable for any violations.

The military also said Tuesday it would draft a set of regulations for selecting the 100-member assembly that will write a new constitution. That could make it more difficult for any Islamist-led legislature to choose the body and thereby give the charter an Islamist slant.

Protesters still in Tahrir lifted their siege of the city’s largest government building Wednesday, allowing business to resume there while staying camped out in the square for a sixth day to press the country’s new military rulers for faster change. Hundreds of Egyptians holding personal documents funneled into the building, a symbol of Egyptian bureaucracy.

“The complex is open upon orders of the revolution,” read a banner on its front gates.

Protester Mahmoud el-Noubi said organizers are trying to step up pressure on the government without disrupting daily life.

A stern statement Tuesday from the military council failed to quell the protests in Tahrir, and participants said they would continue with their encampment until all their demands are met.

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