* Military pledges no return to the past
* Won't allow "attempts to create strife"
* Activists to stage march to replace cabinet
(Adds quotes, prisoners to be released)
By Marwa Awad
CAIRO, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Egypt's new military rulers assured the nation on Thursday they would guard against what protesters have called a counter-revolution by associates of Hosni Mubarak, deposed nearly two weeks ago in an 18-day uprising.
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces said it noted the use of political expressions such as "the counter revolution" and denounced what it said were "attempts to create strife", saying it was taking all steps to meet the people's demands.
Protesters have said they fear a "counter revolution" whereby associates of Mubarak seek to creep back to power, perhaps by rebranding the president's now crippled ruling party. They are also concerned by Mubarak-appointed ministers staying in their roles.
"There will be no return to the past. The sublime goal now is achieving the hopes and aspirations of the people," the council said in a statement on its Facebook page.
Egypt's protest organisers expect a big turnout on Friday in Cairo to demand the removal of a new cabinet in which the key portfolios of defence, justice, interior and foreign affairs were appointed by Mubarak who was ousted nearly two weeks ago.
Several youth activists said the protest aims to unify Egyptians in a campaign to have a new government of technocrats appointed that will make a clean break from Mubarak's old guard.
In the fragmented political arena of post-revolutionary Egypt, those with wealth, whatever its source, may still be able to win power and influence in elections where voting for decades has been determined by thuggery, bribery and manipulation. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
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Protest timeline http://link.reuters.com/wen97r
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"There is anger on the streets towards everything Mubarak, and we loathe to see his followers remain in control," Yahya Saqr, one protester from the Youth of Jan. 25 group.
"Friday is another day of protest that will bring together Egyptians who bravely ousted Mubarak but still struggle as remnants of the old regime try to hang on and ruin the revolution," activist protester Sameha Metwali said.
Sameha spoke to Reuters about what she called a "counter revolution", a term anti-Mubarak activists use to refer to Mubarak associates who may try to stage a comeback ahead of parliamentary elections.
NETWORK OF INTERESTS
While many former ministers and business executives linked to Mubarak's ruling party are under investigation, others in the network of interests and allies have been left off the list.
A 10-member committee amending Egypt's constitution before parliamentary and presidential elections the military has promised will take place within six months said it will meet the military on Saturday to discuss proposed amendments.
The key amendments will dismantle the legal mechanisms which kept Mubarak and his ruling party in power for 30 years until he was ousted by mass protests.
The military council running Egypt has promised to hold elections in six months. An army source told Reuters that before the elections, the constitutional amendments would be the subject of a public debate followed by a referendum.
Yahya said the army must release all political prisoners immediately and that Egyptians must be wary of local leaders who may try to ride the revolutionary wave to establish new parties under the name of the 25th of January.
State television said on Thursday evening the authorities had released 189 people from prison, of whom 159 were political detainees.
Beyond Egypt's western border a rebellion against Muammar Gaddafi rages in eastern Libya, a region historically known for uprisings against authority, and getting back Egyptian expatriates is one of the military's many challenges.
More than 360 people died in the uprising that led to the overthrow of Mubarak.
Foreign Minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, said Egypt's vice president Omar Suleiman, who served briefly under ousted President Hosni Mubarak, had survived an assassination attempt that left one of his bodyguards dead and another wounded.
The attempt was reported by U.S. media earlier in February but denied at the time by a senior Egyptian security source. (Editing by Peter Millership and Philippa Fletcher)