Mubarak urged to quit as opposition draws up list of demands (Roundup)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

CAIRO - Egypt’s prominent dissident Mohammed ElBaradei Tuesday called on embattled President Hosni Mubarak to step down and leave the country as the opposition issued their first clear list of demands that would form the basis for negotiations with the country’s existing power structure.

On Tuesday, about 100,000 protesters have gathered at the Tahrir Square in Cairo to demand President Mubarak’s expulsion, Xinhua reported.

If the president steps down, dialogue will start with the government,” ElBaradei said while highlighting the importance of peaceful demonstrations after the military announced it will not use force against the protestors.

According to DPA, the first item on the list demands resignation of President Hosni Mubarak “and his regime”.

Secondly a transitional leadership should be formed, and a committee should be established to write a new constitution for the country.

Finally, the grouping demands that parliament, dominated by Mubarak’s National Democratic Party, be dissolved.

The list was sent to Vice President Omar Suleiman, the former spy chief, who on Monday evening said he would open a dialogue with “all political parties”.

Several opposition groups signed the list, saying that if a time frame was set out by Suleiman for implementing the demands, negotiations could begin.

The former chief of the UN nuclear watchdog the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), who returned to Egypt last Thursday, has claimed that he could lead an interim government after Mubarak steps down, Xinhua added.

“What I have heard (from protesters) is that they want this to end, if not today (Tuesday), then by Friday maximum,” ElBaradei told Al Arabya, adding that the Egyptians have marked Friday as a “departure day”.

“I hope President Mubarak goes before this and leaves the country after 30 years of rule… I don’t think he wants to see more blood.”

On Monday, Egypt’s Vice President Omar Suleiman announced that the president appointed him to hold immediate dialogue with the opposition parties.

But officials with the banned Muslim Brotherhood, the largest opposition movement in the country, told DPA they would not negotiate with Suleiman - although they also would not stand in the way of talks.

However, liberal groups and Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohammed ElBaradei said they supported the list and talking to the vice president, provided that Mubarak stepped down.

The protesters in Tahrir Square have made it clear that they will not relent until Mubarak steps down and the country is put on the path towards serious economic and democratic reforms.

Unrest was also widespread in other remote regions across the vast and mostly poor country of 80 million people, almost half below the age of 35. The protests are the largest in a generation.

At least 150 people have died so far in violence linked to the unrest, since it erupted about a week ago.

Egypt’s economy was suffering with its bonds being downgraded. The country’s stock market and banks also remained closed.

The port in Alexandria was also closed, according to traders. But the Suez Canal, vital for international trade, remained functional.

There was, however, chaos at Cairo’s international airport where thousands of foreigners were attempting to be evacuated to their home countries. As many as 600 Indians have already been evacuated from Cairo, through two Air India flights that were specially operated for them.

Filed under: Politics

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