Thousands of protesters leave Egypt’s Tahrir Square

Thousands of demonstrators have left Cairo’s Tahrir Square after Egypt’s new military rulers said they would dissolve parliament and suspend the constitution.The higher military council has also said it will stay in power for six months or until elections can be held.The announcements were welcomed by many of the protesters as a clean break from the old regime.Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak quit on Friday after 18 days of mass rallies.The country has meanwhile declared Monday a bank holiday in an attempt to return the country to normal, after workers disrupted operations at the country’s main state banks.The military is expected to ban meetings by labour unions or professional organisations, effectively banning strikes, and to tell all Egyptians to get back to work, according to Reuters news agency.Correspondents say some employees have been emboldened by the success of protesters and are now seeking the removal of the bosses they blame for what they consider to be huge earnings gaps in their companies.The BBC’s Wyre Davies in Cairo said the main focal point of Egypt’s popular uprising, Tahrir Square, has mainly emptied of protesters with only a few hard-core demonstrators remaining.On Sunday, a statement was read out on state TV from the higher military council, saying it would suspend the constitution and set up a committee to draft a new one, which would then be put to a popular referendum.The country’s constitution has prevented many parties and groups from standing in elections, leaving Egypt with a parliament packed with supporters of the National Democratic Party, loyal to Mr Mubarak.During the transition, the cabinet appointed by Mr Mubarak last month will go on governing, submitting legislation to the army chiefs for approval.The opposition’s Ayman Nour, who challenged Mr Mubarak for the presidency in 2005, described the military leadership’s steps as a “victory for the revolution”.Caretaker Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq said his main priority was to restore the country’s security.

“Our main concern now as a cabinet is security – we need to bring back a sense of security to the Egyptian citizen.”Parallel to that we also want to ensure that the daily life of all Egyptians goes back to normal and that basic needs like bread and healthcare are available.”He said that the country had enough reserves to weather the economic crisis, but that if instability continued there could be “obstacles”.Earlier, Mr Obama welcomed the new military leadership’s statement aired on state TV on Saturday, which implicitly confirms that the country’s 1979 peace treaty with Israel will remain intact.Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu also welcomed the announcement, saying the treaty was a cornerstone of Middle East stability – BBC