Mubarak wants talks with opposition (YNetNews.Com -Yedioth Internet) Roi Kais Latest Update: 01.31.11, 11:37)
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Meanwhile, protesters camped out in Tahrir Square vow to stay until
Mubarak is ousted, despite promises for economic, political reform,
and El Al flight from Cairo brings dozens of Israelis home. ´We
witnessed revolution live,´ says one
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak ordered his government to begin
talks with the opposition parties backing the uprising against him,
Al-Arabiya reported Monday.
Mubarak told incoming Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq to lead the state
towards democracy through dialogue and to return faith to the
"We must progress in general, quickly and effectively, towards
political, legal, and parliamentary reform through dialogue with all
parties that aspire to operate in the democratic arena," he was
reported as saying. Mubarak also ordered the government to reduce
inflation and earmark funds for "support of the underclass".
Meanwhile an El Al flight carrying dozens of Israeli tourists from
Cairo landed in Ben Gurion International Airport Monday morning,
having fled the uprising in Egypt.
Emily, a US citizen who works in Egypt, came to stay with relatives
in Israel. She described total chaos. "There are no policemen in the
streets, just a few tanks. At night people loot, and there was a lot
of fear. I knew I should come back, and I´m glad I have a safe place
to return to like Israel," she said.
In Arabic, she added, "The Egyptian government and President Hosni
Mubarak are oppressing the citizens." However she said she does not
believe Mubarak will fall from power anytime soon.
Some Israelis were shocked by what they had seen, vowing never to
return to Egypt. But Moshe, from Jerusalem, was excited. "I may not
have gotten to travel much, but I witnessed a revolution live and I´m
not sorry. It´s something you don´t see every day."
´Army must choose: Egypt or Mubarak´
As the sixth day of protests came to an end Sunday night, Egyptian
protesters camped out in central Cairo and vowed to stay until they
had toppled President Hosni Mubarak, whose fate appeared to hang on
the military as pressure mounted from the street and abroad.
"The army has to choose between Egypt and Mubarak," read one banner
in Cairo´s Tahrir Square, where demonstrators shared food with
soldiers sent to restore order after violent protests shook Mubarak´s
30-year rule to its core.
Six days of unrest has killed more than 100 people but the two sides
have reached a stalemate. Protesters refuse to go, while the army is
not moving them. The longer protesters stay unchallenged, the more
untenable Mubarak´s position seems.
Protesters in Tahrir Square, epicentre of the earthquake that has
sent shudders through the Middle East and among global investors,
have dismissed Mubarak´s appointment of military men as his vice
president and prime minister.
His promises of economic reform to address public anger at rising
prices, unemployment and huge gap between rich and poor have failed
to halt their broader calls for a political sweep out of Mubarak and
Mubarak said the protesters had expressed reasonable demands this
past week but that "religious slogans" had also permeated the masses.
The president was apparently referring to the various opposition
groups, the largest being the Muslim Brotherhood.
He added that the group, which has been outlawed by the government,
has "strived to create chaos" and led to general anarchy and looting.
In the first few days of the protest the Muslim Brotherhood was
generally absent from the scene, but recently the group has been more
outspoken, calling on Mubarak to resign.
Protesters have called for a general strike on Monday and what they
bill as a "protest of the millions" march on Tuesday, to press their
demands for democracy which could spell the end for the military
establishment which has run post-colonial Egypt since the 1950s.
Mubarak discusses reform with Obama
The United States, an ally which has poured billions of dollars of
aid into Egypt since Mubarak came to power, stopped just short of
saying openly that it wanted him out. Officials including President
Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke about "an
The Egyptian MENA reported that Mubarak had discussed political
reform with Obama, and the latter said the president had expressed
determination to take steps towards democracy
A senior US administration official, who declined to be identified,
said the feeling among Obama´s national security aides was that
Mubarak´s time had passed, but it was up to Egyptians to determine
what happens next.
Mubarak, a former air force chief, has turned to his military
commanders, meeting them on Sunday. They seem to hold his future in
their hands. Egypt´s defense minister spoke by phone to US Defense
Secretary Robert Gates on Sunday.
Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and
highest-ranking US military officer, praised the "professionalism" of
Egypt´s armed forces as its troops refrained from a crackdown on
protesters. Egypt receives about $1.3 billion a year in US military
Al-Jazeera: We were shut down
The pan-Arab broadcaster Al-Jazeera said Sunday that Egyptian
authorities ordered the closure of its Cairo news hub overseeing
coverage of the country´s massive street protests. The station
denounced the move as an attempt to "stifle and repress" open
The network called out for help from Egyptian bloggers and anyone
else who could send blog posts, eyewitness accounts and videos to
expand coverage of the uprising.
The Qatar-based network has given nearly round-the-clock coverage to
the unprecedented uprising against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak
and had faced criticism by some government supporters and other Arab
leaders as a forum to inspire more unrest.
Al-Jazeera called the Egyptian ban "an act designed to stifle and
repress the freedom of reporting by the network and its journalists."
"In this time of deep turmoil and unrest in Egyptian society, it is
imperative that voices from all sides be heard," said the statement
from its headquarters in Qatar´s capital Doha. "The closing of our
bureau by the Egyptian government is aimed at censoring and silencing
the voices of the Egyptian people."
The network promised to continue its coverage, but it was unclear in
what form. It said Al-Jazeera journalists would provide updates on
Twitter. The network had previously posted clips from broadcasts on
YouTube. Reuters and Roee Nahmias contributed to this report
(Copyright 2011 © Yedioth Internet 01/31/11)
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