Thousands of protesters remain in Cairo’s Tahrir Square

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

CAIRO - Thousands of Egyptians Wednesday continued to camp out in protest in Cairo’s Tahrir square, after a mass rally the day before to pressure President Hosni Mubarak to step down.

Overnight UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for the Egyptian government to enact a transition “the sooner, the better”, but stopped short of calling on Mubarak to resign immediately.

Tuesday’s rally in Cairo had seen a partial renewal of early numbers and enthusiasm from the anti-Mubarak protestors, with estimates putting the crowd at hundreds of thousands, with many of them, chanting for the ousting of Mubarak, dissolving the parliament and constitutional reforms.

Protesters are now hoping for another “one million-strong rally” Friday in Tahrir, and more demonstrations nationwide, as a way to show their rejection for the government’s overture and promises of reform.

Mubarak has approved three committees to oversee promised reforms. A judiciary committee will look into constitutional amendments and set both term limits on the presidency and expand who can run for the highest seat in the country.

Two other committees are also to follow up on promises of reform and to investigate last week’s attacks on anti-Mubarak demonstrators that left at least 11 dead and hundreds injured.

However, Mubarak, who has been in power for nearly 30 years, rejected calls for him to step down and vowed to stay on as president until September, when his term ends.

In New York, UN chief Ban renewed a call for the Egyptian government and people to work out an “orderly and peaceful transition … the sooner, the better”. Yet, he avoided calling on Mubarak to immediately resign, taking the same position adopted by many governments including the US.

US Vice President Joe Biden urged the newly-appointed Vice President Omar Suleiman to work with opposition groups to forge a “roadmap” for a “orderly” political transition.

Suleiman met representatives of various opposition groups, including the country’s largest opposition the Muslim Brotherhood, during which he promised to allow for greater freedom of expression and to hold re-elections for a number of disputed seats in


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