See also:
» 06.03.2013 - Egypt court suspends planned election date
» 25.02.2013 - Opposition to boycott another Egypt election?
» 24.03.2011 - Still double standards in Egypt justice
» 24.03.2011 - How cyber-activism lent savvy to North African protests
» 18.03.2011 - Egyptians split on Saturday's referendum
» 03.03.2011 - Egypt PM Shafiq resigns after protests
» 23.02.2011 - Exodus from Libya; foreigners targeted
» 11.02.2011 - It's over - Mubarak has left

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Egypt reforms launched as protests regain power

The "professors' march" towards central Cairo's Tahrir Square

© Hossam el-Hamalawy/afrol News
afrol News, 8 February
- While protesters again fill up central Cairo's Tahrir Square, calling for President Mubarak to step down, Egypt's increasingly powerful Vice-President Omar Suleiman presents a plan for "a peaceful power transition."

Vice-President Suleiman, after talks with opposition groups including the Muslim Brotherhood, today on Egyptian state TV announced that an ample plan for political transition has been worked out, including a timetable. He assured that the protesters' demands had been closely listened to.

Mr Suleiman did not offer much detail in his televised speech, but could reveal that a reform committee had been established, with participation of parts of the opposition, including the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Brotherhood yesterday broke with the protesters' demands of not negotiating with the regime before President Hosni Mubarak steps down, even recognising the need for the President to stay in power for a limited time during transition.

The new government reform drive was to look into both economic and social reforms, but also into constitutional reforms. While the Vice President did not give details, government had earlier indicated there could be introduced a constitutional limitation to the number of terms in the presidential office. President Mubarak has held power for 30 years.

A timetable for political transition now existed, Vice-President Suleiman announced, again without giving details. He however added that President Mubarak had okayed the plan, efforts to create "a national consensus" and the "continued dialogue" with the Egyptian opposition.

Somewhat accommodating demands by the protesters and foreign governments, Mr Suleiman further announced that the protest movement would not be suppressed. No legal actions would be taken against the protesters, he said.

But the Egyptian protest movement was not impressed by the Vice-President's statements. Indeed, today the movement regained some momentum after having lost some of its force after the large Friday manifestation.

Central Cairo's Tahrir Square filled up with protesters quicker today than any day since Friday, with tens of thousan

Egypt's Vice-President Omar Suleiman

© EC/afrol News
ds standing on and around the square early afternoon today.

Interestingly, there were several new groups of protesters gathering in central Cairo today. The new-comers, seemingly assured by the last days without pro-regime attacks on the protests, included ordinary workers following a general strike announced for today, but also a large group of professors and university teachers.

The protesters around noon where organising several marches, representing the different groups participating in today's demonstration, all moving towards central Cairo to end up at Tahrir this afternoon. One of the marches passed by the Interior Ministry and parliament, with protesters chanting against the Mubarak regime.

Protester Hossam el-Hamalawy recently reported from central Cairo that the protest march he participated in was passing army posts, with soldiers being friendly and letting the march pass. "Some soldiers are smiling and waving back" at us, he writes. "A soldier murmured to me: 'We are with you'," Mr el-Hamalawy added.

Also the professors' march towards Tahrir Square was well attended. "Thousands took part in professors' march from Manyal to Tahrir," Egyptian journalist Sharif Kouddous tweeted from central Cairo. "People cheered them on from the balconies," he added. Many spontaneously had then joined the march.

Today's large gathering of protesters at Tahrir Square is seen as an attempt of the protesters to regain momentum. It could seem successful as the square again is packed with protesters. Activists are moved: "I can't stop myself from crying. We will win," Mr el-Hamalawy tweeted from Tahrir this afternoon.

Already, the protesters discuss how to use this new momentum to assure they are not again side-lined, as they were after the huge Friday protests. "Some talk of planning a march to protest the state TV building, the propaganda arm of the regime," Mr Kouddous reports from Tahrir.

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