Protests continue in Egypt although new PM named

Updated: 2011-01-30 14:11


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Protests continue in Egypt although new PM named

Protesters shout slogans during demonstrations in Cairo Jan 29, 2011. [Photo/Agencies]

CAIRO - Despite the resignation of the Egyptian government and appointment of a vice president and new prime minister, Egypt still saw thousands of protesters defy the curfew Saturday night, insisting President Hosni Mubarak step down.

Earlier in the day, Mubarak named intelligence chief Omar Suleiman as Egypt's vice president, the first of such position in Mubarak's 30-year rule.

Also on Saturday, former Aviation Minister Ahmed Shafik, who also has a military background, was named as the country's prime minister.

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However, protesters and opposition figures were not satisfied with the nomination. Although a curfew has been extended from 4 pm (1400 GMT) to 8 am(0600 GMT) on Saturday in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez, protesters still gathered at the Tahrir Square at midnight, calling for the end of the ruling of Mubarak.

In a related report, the Dubai-based Arabiya TV reported that around 5,000 Egyptian prisoners broke out of a prison in the Fayyoum Govenorate amid the nationwid riots Saturday night. But authorities have yet confirmed the incident while other press outlets desribed the number of the escapees as "hundreds".

Demonstrations turned into riots on Saturday in Cairo and other major governorates, where government buildings have been robbed by looters and clashes between protesters and policemen have led to deaths of many people.

The army called on Egyptians to protect themselves against looters who ransacked dozens of shops in Cairo and other governorates. Many Egyptians formed vigilante groups to protect their private properties.

In downtown Cairo, the building of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) headquarters was set on fire, the second time since Friday. Egypt's National Museum, located near the NDP headquarters, was not affected. However, some of its antiquities have been damaged earlier during the riots caused by the protests.

Many shops and businesses have been closed as people rushed to buy all kinds of food in fear of commodity scarcity due to riots. Egypt's central bank announced Saturday that it will be closed on Sunday.

Violent clashes took place in cities like Ismailiya and Suez, where many protesters were killed and dozens of them were injured.

According to the Egyptian Health Ministry, the nationwide death toll has reached 51 by Saturday afternoon. The number may rise.

Several opposition parties have used the opportunity to urge President Mubarak to step down.

Mohamed ElBaradei, Egypt's top dissident and former chief of UN nuclear watchdog, said Saturday during an interview with Qatari-based Al Jazeera TV that the nomination of vice president and new prime minister was not enough, vowing to press the president till he steps down.

Osama el-Ghazali Harb, leader of the opposition Democratic Front Party, repeatedly called for the end of Mubarak's regime.

The world has been watching the situation in Egypt.

US President Barack Obama on Saturday met his national security team to discuss the current Egyptian crisis, renewing his call for Egypt to embrace reform.

Egypt's official MENA news agency quoted a Pentagon source as saying that the United States has voiced relief on Saturday at Suleiman's oath, thinking it could help calm Egypt's protestors. However, the source said further steps were needed.

Some Western countries, such as Britain, the United States and France, have advised their citizens to return home and warned against travelling to Egypt.

However, some Austrian tourists said they had no fear and felt safe during their stay in Egypt.

They made tours to the city of Sharm el-Sheikh on the Red Sea and Cairo, the capital of Egypt, and arrived at Vienna International Airport safely on Saturday.

According to the Austrian Press Agency (APA), during their stay in Egypt, most of the Austrian tourists acquired insight into the unrest primarily through television.

Only a few got a little first-hand information about the unrest in the capital. "As we drove towards the airport, we saw two large houses burned. Below were tanks. And otherwise it was really quiet. There was less traffic," said a Vienna native.

Also at the airport in Cairo, the situation was relaxed, the Austrian tourists said. There was no increasing number of security persons or police, said an Austrian, who tansit in airport of Cairo on its way from South Africa to Vienna.

Saudi King announced his support to Mubarak amid the protests. Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa, a former Egyptian foreign minister, said in an interview with Al Jazeera that the Egyptian regime must respect the people's requests.

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