Egypt - From our Correspondent

Access hindered in and out of Cairo

Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Egypt national train services have been cancelled and main access roads to Cairo are closed. Correspondent Emad Mekay spoke to RFI on Tuesday about the problems he had getting back to Cairo after taking his family out of the capital for safety reasons.

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Mekay took his family some 40 kilometres outside of Cairo after they heard gunfire in their neighbourhood.

On his way back to Cairo, he encountered a number of road blocks. "Apparently the government are anticipating mass protests-- they are cordoning off the main thoroughfares into the city, so there are difficulties in getting back into Cairo, using the main roads," he said.

Mekay said the agricultural road was blocked outside of Cairo and he was warned that the desert roads from Cairo to Alexandria had been blocked.

"We encountered two problems on the way-- one, there was a group of thugs -- clearly looters-- just from the way they looked and their manner and so forth," he said. "They were holding sticks and iron bars. They were stopping cars and forcing some people out."

Although Mekay got through this first obstacle, his car was stopped again by a joint force of  police and military.

When he identified himself as a reporter, the officials said they did not have orders to allow anyone, reporters or non-reporters.  This is "even though the curfew made it clear that we can go around as much as we like," he said.

Outside of Cairo, there is a mixture of feelings and a bit of confusion. "People want to see change, but at the same time the government managed to get back at them by insecurity and food shortages, so they are really worried about their kids and whether they will be able to put food on the table," he said.

"But even though they are worried, I could also sense that this tactic by the government-- withdrawing from running the country-- has made people even more frustrated with the regime," he said.

"They are blaming [President] Hosni Mubarak for what is happening to them, that he is trying to punish them for wanting regime change [...] But there is a general agreement that people want to see change here," he said.
 

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