Photo Credit: Jonathan Rashad

Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, Egypt’s de facto head of state since the ousting of President Hosni Mubarak on February 11, has failed to quiet raging protests which have now claimed 37 lives across the country.

In a televised address to the country on Tuesday, Tantawi promised presidential elections in June, six months sooner than initially planned.  Egypt’s first free parliamentary elections are expected to begin on Monday.  In his speech, Tantawi told citizens that the rule of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces – the military organization which governs Egypt – would be coming to an end, and that power would be returned to civilians.

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Yet demonstrators were angered that Tantawi suggested a referendum on whether to end military rule sooner, which they saw as an attempt to divide Egyptians fearful of continued violence into distancing themselves from protestors, according to Reuters.

Clashes between protestors and police erupted throughout the night, resulting in more deaths since the renewed protests began 5 days ago.  Riot police fired teargas and rubber bullets at protestors in Tahrir Square after being attacked with rocks.  Though police have denied using live ammunition, most of the dead have displayed bullet wounds, according to medics.

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Malkah Fleisher is a graduate of Cardozo Law School in New York City. She is an editor/staff writer at JewishPress.com and co-hosts a weekly Israeli FM radio show. Malkah lives with her husband and two children on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.