State Dept. reduces staff in Egypt amid violence

The US State Department on Sunday moved to reduce its diplomatic presence in Egypt, saying it had authorized the voluntary departure of dependents of diplomats and non-essential workers.

The move came amid violent demonstrations in Cairo, Alexandria and other parts of Egypt against President Hosni Mubarak’s government. –Reuters

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ElBaradei hails new era on Day Six of Egypt fury

By Samer Al-Atrush

Agence France Press

CAIRO: Top dissident Mohamed ElBaradei told a sea of angry protesters in Cairo on Sunday that they were beginning a new era after six days of a deadly revolt against embattled President Hosni Mubarak.

But despite the anticipation of change, Mubarak ordered police back on the streets after they had largely disappeared over the past two days following street battles with protesters. He also extended a curfew in key cities.

Nobel peace laureate ElBaradei, mandated by Egyptian opposition groups including the banned Muslim Brotherhood to negotiate with Mubarak’s regime, hailed “a new Egypt in which every Egyptian lives in freedom and dignity.”

“We are on the right path, our strength is in our numbers,” ElBaradei said in his first address to the protest epicentre on Cairo’s Tahrir square. “I ask you to be patient, change is coming.”

“We will sacrifice our soul and our blood for the nation,” the angry crowd shouted. “The people want to topple the president.”

Brotherhood leaders Essam el-Erian and Saad el-Katatni, who walked out of prison earlier on Sunday after their guards fled, also addressed the crowd.

“They tried every way to stop the revolution of the people but we will be steadfast regardless of how many martyrs fall,” Erian said.

Democracy advocate Mohamed Elbaradei.

Six days of nationwide protest against Mubarak’s three-decade rule have shaken Egypt and left at least 125 people dead as the veteran leader clings to power.

A curfew slapped on Cairo, Alexandria and Suez on Friday was further extended on Sunday from 3:00 pm to 8:00 am, state television said, leaving citizens only eight hours a day to take to the street.

However, the curfew has so far been largely ignored, with protesters and looters both present on the streets after dark as the army began to tighten checkpoints around the city and search cars.

Mubarak has struggled to placate a nation angry at his three decades of autocratic rule with token gestures such as sacking the government.

 

Parliament speaker Fathi Surur on Sunday made another concession, saying the results of last year’s fraud-tainted parliamentary elections would be revised.

Several foreign governments said they would evacuate their nationals, while the United States authorized the departure of embassy families.

Mubarak on Sunday met with army brass seen as holding the key to his future as warplanes roared low over the downtown Cairo protest in an apparent show of force.

State television said he visited central military command where he met his newly appointed vice president, Omar Suleiman, the military intelligence chief.

He also met outgoing defence minister Mohammed Hussein Tantawi and chief of staff Sami Enan.

Mubarak, a former air force chief, appeared to be bolstering his army support as he faces down the revolt which those driving it say will continue until he steps down.

Washington, a key ally of Egypt, called on Mubarak to do more to defuse the crisis but stopped short of saying he should quit.

But President Barack Obama also voiced support for “an orderly transition to a government that is responsive to the aspirations of the Egyptian people,” in calls to regional leaders on Saturday, the White House said.

As Mubarak met the army chiefs, two Egyptian fighter jets flew repeated low-altitude sorties over Cairo, deafening the protest-hit city.

“Mubarak, go to Saudi Arabia,” the crowd shouted, encouraging the leader in power for 30 years to follow deposed Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali into exile.

A banner in English read: “USA, why do you support the tyrant and not the people.”

A group of women shouted: “1, 2, where’s the people’s money?”

The National Coalition for Change, which groups several opposition movements including the banned Muslim Brotherhood, on Sunday charged ElBaradei with negotiating with the regime.

With fears of insecurity rising, thousands of convicts broke out of prisons across Egypt overnight after they overwhelmed guards or after prison personnel fled their posts.

An AFP correspondent saw 14 bodies in a mosque near Cairo’s Abu Zaabal prison, which a resident said were of two police and 12 convicts.

Troops set up checkpoints on roads to riot-hit prisons, stopping and searching cars for prisoners on the run.

Among those who escaped were senior members of the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as members of Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, some of whom made it back to the Gaza Strip through smuggling tunnels.

With rampant pillaging during the deadly protests, many Egyptians believe the police deliberately released prisoners in order to spread chaos and emphasize the need for the security forces.

“The government wants the people to think that Mubarak is the only option faced with the chaos,” said young demonstrator Sameh Kamal.

Groups of club-carrying vigilantes have deployed on Cairo’s streets to protect property from looters amid growing insecurity as the Arab world’s most populous nation faced an uncertain future.

Youths handed over suspected looters to the army, as police who had battled stone-throwing protesters in the first days of the demonstrations were hardly visible.

Many petrol stations are running out of fuel, motorists said, and many bank cash machines have either been looted or no longer work. Egyptian banks and the stock exchange were ordered closed on Sunday.

Mubarak on Saturday named Suleiman as his first-ever vice president and also a new premier, Ahmed Shafiq. Protesters dismissed the move as too little, too late.

Both men are stalwarts of Egypt’s all-powerful military establishment.

Suleiman, 75, has spearheaded years of Egyptian efforts to clinch an elusive Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, and tried so far in vain to mediate an inter-Palestinian reconciliation.

Shafiq, 69, is respected by the elite, even among the opposition, and has often been mooted as a potential successor to Mubarak.

In Washington, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for an “orderly transition” in Egypt but stopped short of demanding that he step down.

Asked if Mubarak had taken sufficient steps to defuse Egypt’s worst crisis in decades by appointing a vice president and naming a new premier, Clinton told ABC: “Of course not.”

 

“That is the beginning, the bare beginning of what needs to happen, which is a process that leads to the kind of concrete steps to achieve democratic and economic reform that we’ve been urging.”

The Obama administration, she added, has not discussed cutting off aid to Egypt, a key Arab ally.

US military aid to Egypt amounts to $1.3 billion a year, and the total American aid bill to the country averages close to $2 billion annually.

In other developments on Sunday:

Outgoing information minister Anas al-Fikki ordered the closure of Al Jazeera’s operations in Egypt after the pan-Arab satellite channel gave blanket coverage to the riots.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel is carefully watching developments, and its efforts are focused on maintaining the “stability and security” of the region.

The Rafah crossing between southern Gaza and Egypt was closed, a Palestinian official told AFP.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for “restraint, non-violence and respect for fundamental rights” in Egypt.

Stock markets slumped in several Gulf countries, where many leading firms have interests in Egypt, and Cairo’s bourse did not even open.

 

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Suez residents continue protests on day seven

By Marwa Al-A’sar

Daily News Egypt

CAIRO: Thousands of Egyptians in Suez continued protesting for the seventh day, mostly in Al-Arbeen Street, the main street in the city, calling for sacking the governor.

“There is no police presence in Suez whatsoever,” a citizen told Daily News Egypt on condition of anonymity.

“Thugs and looters are everywhere, but the people confront them,” he added. “The army forces never engaged with the protesters.”

Army forces, according to him, are protecting the citizens and have arrested several criminals so far.

A medical source told Daily News Egypt that the official death toll so far reached 21 citizens, while about 250 others were injured during Friday’s protests. According to the source, who declined to be named, some were carried to hospitals in Cairo.

“But the hospitals refused to treat them, despite their critical condition, before getting back to the authorities first,” he said.

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Letter: Mubarak, Let the people go

This letter is in response to the articles covering the civil unrest occurring in Egypt.

As a citizen of and believer in democracy, I applaud the efforts of the Egyptian people.  Their efforts are similar to what happened following the election in Iran and the most recent revolution in Tunisia.

Believe it or not, one thing that trumps capitalism and political correctness in the United States is the right to have one’s voice heard.

This is the foundation of which our democracy is built on. The Egyptian people should continue to defy President Hosni Mubarak’s powerful security forces so that Egyptian democracy can begin to thrive. It is unfortunate that the United States compromised on one of its most fundamental values in order to protect its economic interests in the Middle East; something that happens all too often domestically as well.

It is not the Egyptian people that are attempting to seize power but rather it is those currently in power who have engaged in intimidation to prevent the will of the people from being heard. Why else would they stoop to such underhanded tactics to block various means of communication among the citizens of Egypt? Why is the government in power utilizing such political strong-arm tactics as the use of violence?

President Mubarak, you have had 30 years to lead Egypt and have failed them by your own choosing. The days of the puppet regime are finally coming to an end as it appears the desire for freedom will continue to sweep among the Arab nations. Accordingly, let the call go forth among all citizens of Egypt that your brothers and sisters of democracy from all over the world are with you during every trial and tribulation you may encounter during this crisis.

To the people of Egypt, the trumpet of freedom beckons you to rise in protest and ensure your voice to preserve your sacred heritage, promote your children’s future and obtain the blessings of liberty we all cherish.  As was spoken to an Egyptian Pharaoh many years ago (by another enslaved people): Let my people go!

Joe Bialek

Cleveland, OH USA

 

 

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Nikkei falls; Egypt riots spark shift out of stocks

By Ayai Tomisawa

Reuters

TOKYO: Japan’s Nikkei fell 1.2 percent on Monday as anti-government rioting in Egypt prompted investors to shun riskier assets, with analysts adding that the blow to sentiment comes at a time when the benchmark appeared due for a correction.

Disappointing earnings outlooks from Fujitsu (6702.T) and Konica Minolta (4902.T) also dragged the Nikkei lower and as investors sought safe-haven assets the yen gained, putting additional pressure on shares of exporters.

But oil-related stocks like oil explorer Inpex (1605.T) gained as Brent crude surged to a 28-month peak near $100 a barrel on worries that the unrest in Egypt could spread and disrupt oil shipments through the Suez Canal.

The Nikkei has gained some 13 percent since early November as foreigners piled into lagging Tokyo equities but market players say that bull-run could be drawing to a close, despite expectations of strong October-December results overall from Japanese corporations.

Over the past three sessions, foreign investors have placed net sell orders before the market opened.

“As you can see in pre-market foreign sell orders over the past few days, there have been changes in foreign sentiment towards Japanese stocks,” said Yoshinori Nagano, a senior strategist at Daiwa Asset Management.

The benchmark Nikkei .N225 lost 126.60 points to 10,233.74. It may continue to find support at 10,150 for the day, analysts said.

“Momentum has been falling… and in the short term it has broken the support of the 50-day moving average (of 10,277) and is looking to test the 200-day moving average at 9,871,” said Jamie Coutts, a technical analyst at BGC Securities.

The broader Topix shed 1.1 percent to 909.32. –Additional reporting by Antoni Slodkowski

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Unrest in Egypt: a timeline

Unrest in Egypt: a timeline

CAIRO: Here are the main developments this year in Egypt, rocked by the most serious anti-government demonstrations since President Hosni Mubarak came to power in 1981:

JANUARY 2011

– 17: A 50-year-old man sets himself on fire outside parliament, an apparent copycat of the suicide of a young Tunisian in mid-December, which unleashed an uprising that overthrew president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

– 18: A 25-year-old unemployed man dies after setting himself ablaze in the northern city of Alexandria. Another man, a lawyer in his forties, sets himself alight outside government headquarters in Cairo.

– 24: Leading opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei says opponents of Egypt’s long-running regime should be able to follow the lead set by the toppling of Tunisia’s president.

– 25: Anti-government demonstrations bring several thousand people on to the streets across Egypt. Two demonstrators killed in Suez after clashes with police and in Cairo a police officer dies after being beaten by demonstrators.

– 26: Thousands of people demonstrate in Egyptian towns, despite a strict ban imposed by the authorities. Egyptian police fire tear gas at protesters.

– In Cairo a protester and a policeman are killed in clashes.

– In Suez, 55 demonstrators and 15 police officers injured in clashes.

– 27: Security forces flood central Cairo. Hundreds of protesters clash with police in Suez and Ismailiya.

– A young man is shot dead by police in the Sinai town of Sheikh Zuwayed.

– The White House warns the Cairo government and protesters they have an “obligation” to avoid violence. The European Union calls on Egypt to respect the right to protest.

– 28: Anti-regime protests come to a head after Friday prayers. In Cairo riot police fire tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse tens of thousands of protesters, while in Suez a protester is killed and in Alexandria the governorate building is torched.

– Internet services go down.

– Nobel laureate ElBaradei joins thousands in Friday prayers in Cairo, a day after returning home and saying he is ready to “lead the transition.”

– Mubarak imposes a dusk-to-dawn curfew and calls on the army to assist beleaguered police in enforcing it.

– Key ally the United States, Britain and Germany express concern about the violence, with Britain saying the protesters had “legitimate grievances.”

– Protesters torch the headquarters of the ruling National Democratic Party.

– 29: Tens of thousands of protesters flood Cairo streets, ignoring an extended 4:00 pm to 8:00 am curfew, also applied in Alexandria and Suez. Clashes break out with security forces. Three people killed in the capital while a mob in Rafah kill three police.

– The nationwide death toll since Tuesday reaches at least 51.

– Violent clashes in Ismailiya.

– The army calls on Egyptians to protect themselves against looters. Dozens of shops ransacked in Cairo.

– The resignation of the government, promised by Mubarak, is announced.

– Ahmed Ezz, widely seen as a linchpin of a corrupt regime, resigns from the National Democratic Party.

– The banned Muslim Brotherhood, the best-organised opposition group, calls for a peaceful transfer of power through a transitional cabinet.

– ElBaradei says Mubarak “must go”.

– Influential cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi urges Mubarak to step down for the good of the country.

– Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman sworn in as vice president, the first such post to be held in Mubarak’s 30-year presidency.

– 30: Thousands of convicts break out of prisons.

– Egyptian warplanes make deafening low passes over protesters thronging the city centre as Mubarak visits central military command.

– The opposition charges ElBaradei with negotiating with the regime.

– Pan-Arab satellite television channel Al Jazeera ordered to close in Egypt.

– The United States and several other governments prepare to evacuate their nationals.

– The White House says President Barack Obama in calls to regional leaders on Saturday voiced support for “an orderly transition to a government that is responsive to the aspirations of the Egyptian people.”

– Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel is carefully watching developments.

– The six days of nationwide protest have left at least 125 people dead.

– Police ordered back onto the streets as the curfew is extended to run from 3:00 pm to 8:00 am.

– Parliament speaker Fathi Surur says the results of 2010’s fraud-tainted parliamentary elections will be revised.

Source: AFP

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Opposition calls for million man march Tuesday, general strike

By Safaa Abdoun
Daily News Egypt

CAIRO: The April 6 Youth Movement called for a million man march and a general strike on Tuesday.

“We are renewing our demands, we have to continue what started [last Tuesday] and protect the country, we can’t turn back down do, because if we do, even if it’s one step, it will waste all the effort of the past days,” the movement’s spokesperson Mohamed Adel told the Daily News Egypt.

“We are very close, this is the end for Mubarak,” he noted.

“So we have to complete what was started by continuing the strikes and demonstrations in the streets until the people’s demands are met,” Adel continued.

The strike was first called by workers in the canal city of Suez late on Sunday.

“We will be joining the Suez workers and begin a general strike until our demands are met,” Mohammed Waked, another protest organizer, told AFP.

Mosaab Shahrour, a member of the movement, urged all citizens to go on a general strike and go out on the streets. “Workers at factories and government institutions have to go out on the streets …the demonstrations will have to continue,” he said. –Additional reporting by AFP

 

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