BY SARAH EL DEEB
AND MAGGIE MICHAEL
The Associated Press
CAIRO - Egypt's military rulers took sweeping action Sunday to dismantle the autocratic legacy of former President Hosni Mubarak, dissolving parliament, suspending the constitution and promising elections in moves cautiously welcomed by pro-democracy protesters.
The military council said it would run the country for six months, or until elections can be held.
The caretaker government said restoring security after the 18-day uprising that ousted Mubarak was a top priority even as labor unrest reflected one of the many challenges of steering the Arab world's biggest nation toward stability and democracy.
Egypt's upheaval was also splintering into a host of smaller grievances, as emboldened citizens feel free to speak up, most of them for the first time.
They even included about 2,000 police, widely hated for brutality and corruption under Mubarak, who marched to the Interior Ministry to demand better pay and conditions. As they passed through the protest camp at Tahrir Square, where demonstrators hurled insults at them, calling them "pigs" and "dogs."
The state news agency said banks will be closed today because of strikes and Tuesday for a public holiday.Dozens of employees protested against alleged corruption at the state television building, which broadcast pro-Mubarak messages during the massive demonstrations against his ruleThe caretaker government met for the first time, and employees removed a huge picture of Mubarak in the meeting room before they convened.
The crowds in the protest encampment that became a symbol of defiance against the government thinned out yesterday, the first working day since the regime fell. Traffic flowed through the downtown crossroads for the first time in weeks. Troops cleared most of the makeshift tents and scuffled with holdout activists, still numbering in the thousands.
The protesters have been pressing the ruling military council, led by Defense Minister Hussein Tantawi, to move forward immediately with the transition by naming a presidential council, dissolving the parliament and releasing political prisoners.
The first tentative attempts at communication were taking place between the protest movement and the military. Bassem Kamel, a member of a youth coalition formed during the protests, said several protest organizers met with the council yesterday.
The 18-member Supreme Council of the Armed Forces allayed many people's concerns by moving swiftly to dismiss the legislature, packed with Mubarak loyalists, and sidelining the constitution, used by Mubarak to buttress his rule.
Activists said they would closely watch the military to ensure it does not abuse its unchecked power.