Egyptian protesters take long walk to Tahrir

CAIRO Thu Apr 19, 2012 5:14pm EDT

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CAIRO (Reuters) - A group of Egyptians are marching 125 km (77 miles) along a major highway to Cairo to take part in a demonstration in Tahrir Square, stretching the boundaries of the country's flourishing culture of political activism.

Fifteen activists decided to walk from their hometown of Suez across the desert to Cairo to show commitment to their cause: political reform and an end to the rule of army generals who have been running Egypt since Hosni Mubarak was removed from power by a mass uprising last year.

"We are showing the military council that if someone would walk this distance for a cause, he could do anything else for the same cause," said Mohamed Ghareeb, a 20-year old student who was 45 km from Cairo when he spoke to Reuters by telephone.

Since Mubarak was toppled, Egypt's culture of protest has flourished, with workers staging demonstrations to demand better pay and conditions and activists repeatedly taking to the street to press their political reform agenda.

Such protests were rare under Mubarak. Under his rule, a gathering of more than five people could result in arrests justified on the grounds of emergency laws that crushed political dissent.

The group set out on Wednesday night and expected to reach Cairo by Friday morning. They had picked up another eight protesters along the way, Ghareeb said.

A presidential election is due to take place on May 23-24 as the army has said it will hand over power to an elected president before July 1. However, many Egyptians are concerned about the role the generals will play after the election and what powers the next president will have.

(Reporting by Tamim Elyan; Editing by Tom Perry)

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