Hosni Mubarak names members of new government

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak

CAIRO, Jan. 31 (KATAKAMI.COM / Xinhua) — Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak named new interior and finance ministers on Monday as one of the steps to form a new government after he ordered the previous government to resign.

Mahmoud Wagdi was appointed the interior minister to replace Habib al-Adly, Egyptian TV reported.

Mubarak appointed Aviation Minister Ahmed Shafik who was also a former Air Force commander, as prime minister after the previous cabinet led by Mohamed Nazif resigned on Saturday.

Mubarak on Sunday tasked Shafik to form a cabinet that can meet people’s demands and alleviate economic burdens on the public with introducing democratic reforms.  (*)

British Foreign Secretary updates on situation in Egypt

William Hague

Jan 31 (KATAKAMI.COM / FCO.GOV.UK)  — Foreign Secretary William Hague has travelled to Brussels where he will discuss the situation in Egypt with EU Foreign Ministers.

The Foreign Office advises against all but essential travel to Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor and Suez. We recommend that British nationals without a pressing need to be in Cairo, Alexandria or Suez leave by commercial means where it is safe to do so.

The Foreign Secretary advised British nationals either in or considering travelling to Egypt to check the Foreign Office advice closely and keep in touch with tour operators. He said that the Red Sea resorts have been calm.

“We’ve heard from our Honorary Consul there this morning and the situation remains the same and remains calm, we’ve worked on contingency plans with the tour operators should the situation there change. The problems are much greater in Cairo and Alexandria and Suez. In particular there are problems getting people through Cairo Airport and so we have sent our own Rapid Deployment Team there. We have staff working very hard there to assist British nationals in an orderly and practical way to be able to leave the country.”

The Foreign Secretary said he was concerned that violence would continue over the next few days.

“We’ve stated those concerns to the Egyptian Government. We’ve asked them to avoid violence in dealing with demonstrations. Equally we call on the Egyptian people to demonstrate without resort to violence”.

On the international response, the Foreign Secretary said:

“We’ve been in close touch with our colleagues in the United States. The Prime Minister talked to President Obama and I talked to Secretary Clinton last night and together we have called for an orderly Egyptian led transition to real and visible reform, to a more broadly based Government, to free and fair elections in Egypt. This reform is the way forward – not repression – and I’m now on my way to Brussels to discuss all of this with the EU Foreign Ministers and hopefully to achieve an agreed position for the whole of the European Union, all twenty seven nations, similar to the one we’ve agreed with the United States.”

Earlier today Prime Minister David Cameron said Egypt “must go down the path of reform and not repression… we want the response of the Egyptian government to be… a proper, orderly transition to a more democratic situation where there are greater rights, greater freedoms, a better rule of law, and that sort of reform to show to people in Egypt that their concerns and their aspirations are being listened to… We are not saying who should run this country or that country, but… in the conversations we’ve had with President Mubarak and others, I think it’s sensible to say that you do have a choice here”.

He commented that the Egyptian government should explain to the people that “we hear your concerns, we understand your aspirations, we know you want greater rights, greater freedom, greater democracy, and we’re going to have an orderly transition in Egypt to give you that”.

Minister for the Middle East Alistair Burt will be giving a statement to Parliament today at 15.30 (UK time). The statement can be viewed live on the Parliament website.


House Speaker Boehner warns against debt default

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH)

Jan 31 (KATAKAMI.COM / Reuters) – House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner on Sunday said that the United States must continue meeting its obligations to fund government debt or risk a global financial disaster.

With the Treasury Department rapidly coming closer to bumping up against its statutory borrowing limit of $14.3 trillion, some of Boehner’s fellow Republicans in Congress have suggested that no further borrowing should be authorized until deep cuts are made in federal spending.

Boehner, interviewed on “Fox News Sunday,” was asked about the impact of a government default if the limit on its borrowing authority was not raised in a timely way.

“That would be a financial disaster not only for our country, but for the worldwide economy,” Boehner responded. He added, “Remember, the American people on Election Day said we want to cut spending and we want to create jobs. You can’t create jobs if you default on the federal debt.”

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has estimated that unless Congress acts to increase the debt ceiling, his agency will run out of borrowing authority sometime between March 31 and May 16.

At that point, the government could default on some loans.

Last week, the Treasury Department initiated the first in what is expected to be several stop-gap moves to delay hitting that $14.3 trillion limit on credit.

Even as he pressed for cutting government spending, Boehner said of the notion of Republicans forcing a government default: “I don’t think it’s a question that is even on the table.”

The U.S. debt — the amount of accumulated government borrowing — has been rapidly rising to a level that many economists say is potentially dangerous.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office noted last week that debt held by the public will most likely jump from 40 percent of GDP at the end of fiscal 2008 to nearly 70 percent at the end of this fiscal year.

The CBO last week estimated that this year’s deficit will hit nearly $1.5 trillion, further worsening the debt problem.

Boehner and fellow Republicans have urged cutting back federal spending to fiscal 2008 levels, which they say would save about $100 billion a year.

During his interview on Fox News Sunday, Boehner said, “There is no limit to the amount of spending we’re willing to cut.”

In his State of the Union speech to Congress last week, President Barack Obama tried to answer Republican calls for spending cuts by offering up a five-year freeze on some spending, which he said would save about $400 billion.

But neither the Republican plan nor Obama’s would produce anywhere near enough in long-term savings to solve the nation’s severe fiscal problems.

Both Boehner and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell on Sunday urged bipartisan talks with the Obama administration to address those long-term problems, which will only grow as an aging U.S. population requires more federal retirement benefits and government-backed healthcare.

McConnell, on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” would not say, however, whether he would consider tax increases — a remedy that many Democrats and private analysts say must be included.

When Fox News Sunday asked Boehner about hiking taxes, he responded, “Now, here you’re getting — you’re getting right in the same old nonsense we’ve always gotten into.”

White House Chief of Staff William Daley, interviewed on CBS News Face the Nation, said that raising taxes now, with the U.S. economy still trying to recover, was not “the way to go at this point.”

While he said the Obama administration wants to sit down with congressional leaders to work on deficit problems, “The reality is … there is no way they (Republicans) are going to look for any revenue raising in any way, shape or form” for the long-term. “That puts a tremendous constraint on obviously the budget and the deficit,” Daley said.


Sarkozy Calls on African Leaders to do Better or Risk Public Wrath

France's President Nicolas Sarkozy addresses the 16th African Union Summit in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, January 30, 2011. Photo: REUTERS

Jan 31, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM / VOA) — French President Nicolas Sarkozy has cautioned African leaders to respect the peoples’ will or risk being swept aside by a rising tide of public discontent. The warning came as part of Sarkozy’s keynote address to an African Union summit in Addis Ababa.

The words were carefully chosen, aimed at no one in particular, but the intent of Sarkozy’s comments to African heads of state and government could not have been clearer. In this new world of instantaneous communication, social networking and heightened public awareness, leaders can no longer govern in what he called ‘the world of yesteryear’.

The French president said those who ignore the changing times do so at their own peril.

“Either change is inflicted on one, in which case we leave the door open one day or another to violence, or else you anticipate it, guide it, and then it can take place without clashes, without risks and without opening the door to every sort and kind of drift.  France wants this peaceful change and will support it.”

Leaders of most North African states were conspicuous by their absence at this summit.  Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Algeria were all represented by lower level officials.

At a time when television screens have been filled with angry public demonstrations in north African capitals, Sarkozy warned the more than 30 assembled heads of state they could face a similar fate unless they address people’s aspirations.

“Good governance, democracy, respect for human rights are among many values for which your organization struggles on a daily basis and on which you succeed in pushing forward. These correspond to the deep aspirations of each one of our peoples, as we have been reminded forcefully by recent events in Tunisia and Egypt.”

The French leader also warned against the use of force to put down public demonstrations.

“Allow me on this sensitive subject to speak very bluntly. I am going to speak as a friend, because one owes the truth to one’s friends. When faced with innocent victims, our consciences cannot but be pricked because violence from whatever sources is never a solution. Because violence only breeds more violence, because violence on all continents engenders misery and suffering.”

Sarkozy also singled out Ivory Coast, implicitly criticizing incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo for refusing the step down after his apparent defeat in last November’s presidential runoff election.

“In Cote d’Ivoire, where the freely expressed will of an entire people in an election meant to seal a return to peace is being treated with scorn, France resolutely supports efforts of A.U. and ECOWAS and the U.N. secretary general to ensure that the Ivorian people’s choice, peaceful choice, prevails despite the difficulties and the setbacks.”

In a separate summit address, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon backed the call for a negotiated settlement in Ivory Coast.  But Ban said any solution should result in the formation of a government led by challenger Alassane Ouattara.

Both the United Nations and the African Union have recognized Ouattara’s election victory. (*)

PM Netanyahu's Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convenes the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Sunday, Jan. 30, 2011. Israel's prime minister said Sunday that his country's three-decade-old peace agreement with Egypt must be preserved, in his first public comment on the political unrest roiling Israel's neighbor and regional ally. (AP Photo/Tomer Appelbaum, Pool)

Jan 30 (KATAKAMI.COM / PRIME MINISTER’s OFFICE) — Following are Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting today:

“We are anxiously monitoring what is happening in Egypt and [elsewhere] in our region.  Last night, I spoke with US President Barack Obama and US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton.  I also held consultations with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and with Israeli intelligence officials.

Our efforts are designed to continue and maintain stability and security in our region.  I remind you that the peace between Israel and Egypt has endured for over three decades and our goal is to ensure that these relations continue.  Of course, at this time, we must show maximum responsibility, restraint and sagacity and, to this end, I have instructed my fellow ministers to refrain from commenting on this issue.  Naturally, we are also holding consultations in the appropriate government forums.

Tomorrow, German Chancellor Angela Merkel will arrive in Israel, along with ministers of her government, in the framework of the biannual meetings between the Israeli and German governments.  We will hold a joint Cabinet meeting.  We have many common interests regarding economics, security, foreign affairs and our desire to advance peace.  We view Germany – one of the most important countries in the world, and one of the most important for Israel – as a main anchor in our relations with Europe.  It is self-evident that, during the visit, we will discuss the developing situation in the region.”  (*)

PM Netanyahu: Israel's objective is to maintain peaceful ties with Egypt

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting on January 30, 2011 in Jerusalem, Israel. Prime Minister Netanyahu told his cabinet today that israel must exercise responsibilty and restraint towards the unrest in Egypt, and that Jerusalem's primary concern is to preserve the stability and peaceful ties with Cairo which have lasted for more than three decades. (Photo by Tomer Appelbaum - Pool/Getty Images)


Jan 30 (KATAKAMI / HAARETZ) — In first public comments on sweeping protests in Israel’s southern neighbor, says Jerusalem is ‘following with vigilance the events in Egypt and in our region.’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet Sunday that Israel must exercise responsibility and restraint in the face of the unrest in Egypt, and that Jerusalem’s primary concern was to preserve the more than 30 years of stability and peaceful ties with Cairo.

“The peace between Israel and Egypt has lasted for more than three decades and our objective is to ensure that these relations will continue to exist,” Netanyahu said.

Protests against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s rule have worried Israel, which signed a peace treaty with its largest Arab ally in 1979, and uncertainty over Egypt’s future has raised fears about stability in the region.

“We are following with vigilance the events in Egypt and in our region … at this time we must show responsibility and restraint and maximum consideration,” Netanyahu told his cabinet, in his first public response since the protests began.

The prime minister said he had spoken with U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton overnight, after which he had held consultations with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, and senior intelligence officials.

Netanyahu also repeated his request for ministers to refrain from further comment on the situation in Egypt.

“Our efforts have been intended to continue to preserve stability and security in our region,” Netanyahu added.  (*)



Clinton to discuss reconstruction, election standoff in Haiti

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will meet with Haitian leaders to discuss the disputed election

Jan 30 (KATAKAMI.COM / CNN) — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will visit Haiti on Sunday to discuss the nation’s reconstruction efforts and the disputed November polls with top officials.

Clinton will meet with Haitian President Rene Preval, other political leaders and electoral candidates. She also plans to visit a cholera treatment clinic.

Haiti’s political crisis will not be resolved until well into spring as the nation’s election panel announced a timetable for a runoff and subsequent vote tally.

Electoral officials will this week announce the long-awaited results of the disputed presidential vote, with a runoff scheduled for March 20.

Final results will not be known until April 16.

Attempts to resolve the political turmoil came as the toll in the nation’s cholera outbreak surged past 4,000, the public health ministry said.

More than 200,000 people have been sickened and 4,030 have died as of January 24, according to the latest report posted by the ministry.

Haiti, which was struck by a massive earthquake a year ago, has been struggling to recover. Its troubles were compounded first by cholera and then by the November 28 presidential elections that became mired in controversy.

In early December, the electoral council announced that former first lady Mirlande Manigat had won but lacked a majority of votes for an outright victory.

Initial results put her in a runoff with Jude Celestin, a protege of the president.

The third-place candidate, popular musician Michel Martelly, claimed he had won more votes than Celestin and a review of results by an Organization of American States team supported that contention. That review suggested that Martelly earned a spot in the runoff.

It’s unclear whether Preval’s ruling Inite (Unity) party plans to withdraw its support of Celestin in light of the election review.

Discontent with Preval and his government manifested itself on the streets of Haiti after the preliminary results were announced. Haitians charged vote fraud and burned cars, tires and Celestin’s campaign headquarters in Port-au-Prince.

The electoral council said it will announce the final results of the first round on Wednesday.  (*)

Egypt's Mubarak meets commanders: reports

Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak

Jan 30 (KATAKAMI.COM / Reuters) – Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak visited a military headquarters and met top commanders, state media reported, showing the leader chairing a meeting as protesters who have rocked the country demanded he quit.

State television showed Mubarak meeting newly appointed Vice President Omar Suleiman, Defense Minister Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, Chief of Staff Sami al-Anan and other commanders.

The official state news agency said Mubarak was reviewing the armed forces headquarters in charge of security operations.  (*)

David Cameron's 'grave concern' over Egypt violence

FILE : Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak attends the opening session of the Arab League Second Economic Forum, in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh January 19, 2011. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih

Jan 30 (KATAKAMI.COM / BREAKINGNEWS.IE) — British Prime Minister David Cameron spoke to President Hosni Mubarak tonight to express his “grave concern” about violence against anti-government protesters in Egypt.

Mr Cameron urged the embattled leader to “take bold steps to accelerate political reform and build democratic legitimacy” rather than attempt to repress dissent, according to Downing Street.

In a joint statement with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Mr Cameron added: “The Egyptian people have legitimate grievances and a longing for a just and better future.

“We urge President Mubarak to embark on a process of transformation which should be reflected in a broad-based government and in free and fair elections.”

Mr Cameron made his intervention in a telephone call this evening, as tens of thousands of protesters were still on the streets demanding reforms and an end to Mr Mubarak’s three-decade rule.

More than 50 people are said to have died during five days of clashes with police, and thousands more have been injured.

Mr Mubarak tried to ease the crisis yesterday by sacking his cabinet and appointing a moderate new deputy.

But the UK and US – previously strong allies of the regime – have failed to give their backing.

America has suggested it could withdraw Egypt’s multibillion-dollar aid package if civil liberties are not respected.

A Downing Street spokeswoman said: “The Prime Minister has this evening spoken to President Mubarak and expressed his grave concern about the ongoing events, particularly violence on the streets.

“He emphasised that violent repression of peaceful protest was wrong and counter-productive.

“The Prime Minister urged the President to take bold steps to accelerate political reform and build democratic legitimacy, which should be reflected by an inclusive government with the credibility to carry this agenda forward.”

The joint statement from Mr Cameron, Mr Sarkozy and Mrs Merkel voiced “deep concern” about the events.

“We recognise the moderating role President Mubarak has played over many years in the Middle East. We now urge him to show the same moderation in addressing the current situation in Egypt,” it said.

“We call on President Mubarak to avoid at all costs the use of violence against unarmed civilians, and on the demonstrators to exercise their rights peacefully.

“It is essential that the further political, economic and social reforms President Mubarak has promised are implemented fully and quickly and meet the aspirations of the Egyptian people.

“There must be full respect for human rights and democratic freedoms, including freedom of expression and communication, including use of telephones and the internet, and the right of peaceful assembly.”   (*)

British Prime Minister David Cameron calls for Egypt reform

FILE : British Prime Minister David Cameron

Jan 30 (KATAKAMI.COM / NUMBER 10.GOV.UK) — David Cameron has voiced his support for “reform and progress” in Egypt and expressed his hope that the violence of recent days will subside.

Speaking to US broadcaster CNN, the Prime Minister said that real democracy was about more than the holding of elections and required “building blocks” to be put in place to create a country that is “democratic, strong, accountable”.

The Prime Minister said:

“I think what we need is reform in Egypt. I mean we support reform and progress in the greater strengthening of their democracy and civil rights and the rule of law. Clearly there are grievances that people have and they need to be met and matched.

“I don’t think it’s in anyone’s interest that people are being killed on the streets of Egypt as we speak at the moment and so I hope the violence will cease. But clearly, when you have people who have grievances and problems that want them responded to, it’s in all our interests that these countries have stronger rule of law, stronger rights, stronger democracy.”

Yesterday Foreign Secretary William Hague called upon the Egyptian government to “respond positively to legitimate demands for reform” and to respect the rights of people to free assembly and freedom of expression.  (*)

Joint UK-France-Germany statement on Egypt

Jan 30 (KATAKAMI.COM / NUMBER 10.GOV.UK) — Prime Minister David Cameron has issued a joint statement with President Sarkozy of France and Chancellor Merkel of Germany on the situation in Egypt.

In the statement the three leaders call for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to display moderation and avoid the use of violence against protesters. They also ask that respect be shown for human rights and democratic freedoms and call for the holding of free and fair elections.

The Prime Minister also spoke in person to President Mubarak on Saturday, urging him to accelerate political reform and build democratic legitimacy.

A joint statement by Prime Minister David Cameron, President Nicolas Sarkozy and Chancellor Angela Merkel on the situation in Egypt.

Read the statement :

“We are deeply concerned about the events that we are witnessing in Egypt. We recognise the moderating role President Mubarak has played over many years in the Middle East. We now urge him to show the same moderation in addressing the current situation in Egypt.

“We call on President Mubarak to avoid at all costs the use of violence against unarmed civilians, and on the demonstrators to exercise their rights peacefully.

“It is essential that the further political, economic and social reforms President Mubarak has promised are implemented fully and quickly and meet the aspirations of the Egyptian people.

“There must be full respect for human rights and democratic freedoms, including freedom of expression and communication, including use of telephones and the internet, and the right of peaceful assembly.

“The Egyptian people have legitimate grievances and a longing for a just and better future. We urge President Mubarak to embark on a process of transformation which should be reflected in a broad-based government and in free and fair elections.”  (*)

Saudi King supports Hosni Mubarak, Mahmoud Abbas makes a phone call

FILE : Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah speaks in his plane before his arrival in Casablanca January 22, 2011. King Abdullah, Saudi Arabia's elderly and ailing ruler, arrived in Morocco on Saturday to convalesce after spending almost two months in New York for medical treatment, the official Saudi Press Agency reported. Picture taken January 22, 2011. (Photo : Getty Images )

RIYADH, Jan 30 (KATAKAMI.COM / GULF TODAY.AE) —  Saudi King Abdullah has expressed his support for President Hosni Mubarak and slammed those “tampering” with Egypt’s security and stability, state news agency SPA reported on Saturday.

The Saudi ruler, in Morocco recovering from back surgery performed in the United States, telephoned Mubarak early Saturday, the report said.

During the conversation, Abdullah condemned “intruders” he said were “tampering with Egypt’s security and stability …in the name of freedom of expression.”

Saudi Arabia, he added, “stands with all its means with the government and people of Egypt.” SPA said Mubarak had responded by assuring King Abdullah that “the situation is stable (in Egypt) … and what the world has seen is nothing more than an attempt by some … suspicious groups which do not want stability and security for Egyptians.”

Mubarak, known for his close ties with the Saudi king, had added, “Egypt and its people are determined to stop those trying to use the freedom given (to Egyptians) to achieve suspicious agendas,” SPA said.

Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia granted asylum to Tunisian strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali after he was toppled in what has been dubbed “The Jasmine Revolution.”

Saudi foreign ministry spokesman Osama Nogali said the decision to give shelter to Ben Ali was so as to try to “help defuse the crisis and prevent the bloodshed of the Tunisian people.”

Saudi Arabia has kept a total blackout on Ben Ali’s activities since he landed in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah early on January 15 with six members of his family.

The kingdom has sheltered other exiled leaders in the past, including former Ugandan dictator Idi Amin and former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

FILE : From right to left, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak meets with Palestinian authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, Egyptian foreign minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit and Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh at the Presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Jan. 24, 2011. Talks come within the framework of efforts aimed at reviving the Middle East peace process. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas telephoned Mubarak on Saturday and expressed his hopes that the country would safely weather its current unrest.

“President Mahmoud Abbas called Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and affirmed his solidarity with Egypt and his commitment to its security and stability,” said a statement released by Abbas’s office.

It added: “He wished that God bless Egypt and its people who have always stood with the Palestinian people.”

Egypt, which shares a border with the Gaza Strip has historically played a leading role in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and has also tried to broker reconciliation between Abbas’s Fatah movement and its bitter rival Hamas, which rules Gaza.

Meanwhile a senior Kuwaiti official said Kuwait is bringing citizens and residents home from Egypt on free flights.

Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs Roudhan Al Roudhan said “Kuwaiti citizens and residents are being brought back home on free flights in light of the current security troubles in Egypt,” state news agency KUNA reported.  (*)

Egypt's intelligence chief appointed vice-president; Mubarak's family leaves for London

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, right, listens as Omar Suleiman, swears the oath as Vice President of Egypt, Saturday Jan. 29. 2011. Photo by: AP

Omar Suleiman is first vice-president in 30 years; embattled Mubarak also names Ahmed Shafiq as prime minister and army chief Lt. Gen. Sami Hafez Anan as defense minister in bid to stem growing popular protests.

Jan 30 (KATAKAMI.COM / HAARETZ) — Embattled Egyptian President Mubarak appointed on Saturday a former air force commander and aviation minister, Ahmed Shafiq, as the new prime minister, in efforts to stem popular rage against his autocratic regime. The move ensures that men with military links are in the top three political jobs.

Shafiq’s appointment followed announcement earlier on Saturday that Omar Suleiman, the intelligence chief with military experience, would be vice president and in prime position for the top job if Mubarak does not run for president again in September.

Mubarak also named Egypt’s military chief Lt. Gen. Sami Hafez Anan as the new defense minister.

Mubarak, 82, was also a former air force chief.

The Egyptian cabinet formally resigned on Saturday, at the command of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, following five days of violent anti-government protests. Mubarak addressed the country on Saturday for the fist time since the riots began, saying that he had no intention to resign.

Mubarak’s two sons, Gamal and Ala, arrived in London late Saturday as the clashes in their home country continued.  The Egyptian president’s wife left Egypt later on Saturday and is also expected to arrive in London, Al Jazeera reported.

The popular protests in Egypt, which continue unabated, have left at least 55 reported dead and over 2,000 wounded. Some sources are saying that the death toll could be as high as 100 once confusion on the streets clears up.

The protests are the most serious challenge to Mubarak’s 30-year authoritarian rule. The embattled president defended the security forces’ crackdown on protesters, but said that he will press ahead with social, economic and political reforms in the country.

Suleiman is the first vice-president of Egypt to be appointed since Mubarak first took power almost thirty years ago. Mubarak himself occupied the position of vice-president under the former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, and took the reigns of power after Sadat was assassinated in 1981.

The Muslim Brotherhood, the largest opposition movement in Egypt called for Mubarak to relinquish power in a peaceful manner, AFP has reported. The Muslim Brotherhood is officially banned from running for elections for parliament, though some movement members candidate for parliament as independents.

The government’s attempts to suppress demonstrations appeared to be swiftly eroding support from the United States- suddenly forced to choose between its most important Arab ally and a democratic uprising demanding his ouster. Washington threatened to reduce a $1.5 billion program of foreign aid if Mubarak escalated the use of force.

Al-Jazeera news reported that Egyptian pro-democracy leader, Mohamed ElBaradei called on Mubarak to step down and set a framework for transition of power as the only way to end street unrests that have rocked Egypt.

The former head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog told Al Jazeera in a phone interview that Mubarak’s speech on Friday, in which he said he would form a new government, was “disappointing” for Egyptians.

Countries across the world have weighed in on the crisis in Egypt and have expressed their views on how Mubarak should handle the situation. Iran voiced support for the protesters, calling the mass demonstrations a “wave of Islamic awakening.”

“The protests of the Muslim people of Egypt is a move towards gaining justice and realizing their national and religious will,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said.

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah expressed support for Mubarak on Saturday, the official Saudi Press Agency said.

“No Arab or Muslim can tolerate any meddling in the security and stability of Arab and Muslim Egypt by those who infiltrated the people in the name of freedom of expression, exploiting it to inject their destructive hatred,” SPA quoted King Abdullah as saying.

United States President Barack Obama called on Mubarak on Friday to expand rights within the country.

“Surely, there will be difficult days to come, but the United States will continue to stand up for the rights of the Egyptian people and work with their government in pursuit of a future that is more just, more free and more hopeful,” Obama said he told the longtime leader in a phone call from the White House.

Before Obama spoke, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs announced the administration might cut the $1.5 billion in annual foreign aid sent to Egypt, depending on Mubarak’s response to the demonstrations.

Obama also repeated demands by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton for Egypt’s government to restore access to the internet and social media sites, cut by the authorities in an apparent attempt to limit the flow of information about the protests demanding an end to Mubarak’s rule.

Obama noted the United States and Egypt have a close partnership, a reference to Mubarak’s support over the years for peace with Israel.

But he said, “We’ve also been clear that there must be reform, political, social and economic reforms that meet the aspirations of the Egyptian people.” He added that the demonstrators had a responsibility to express themselves peacefully. He continued, “Violence and destruction will not lead to the reforms they seek.”

In what appeared to be an effort to distance the bloc from Mubarak’s regime, EU President Herman Van Rompuy said on Saturday that the EU is urging Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak to end the crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators and release all political prisoner.

The European Union was deeply troubled by the spiral of violence in Egypt, Van Rompuy said, and he hoped Mubarak’s promises of reform will translate into concrete action. the EU has traditionally had close relations with the Egyptian government as part of its partnerships with countries on the eastern and southern rims of the Mediterranean.

Egypt has also been one of the United States’ closest allies in the region since President Anwar Sadat made peace with Israel in 1979 after talks at Camp David.

Mubarak kept that deal after Sadat’s 1981 assassination and has been a close partner of every U.S. president since Jimmy Carter, helping Washington exert its will on issues that range from suppressing Islamist violence to counterbalancing the rise of Iran’s anti-American Shiite theocracy.

Mubarak has not said yet whether he will stand for another six-year term as president in elections this year. He has never appointed a deputy and is thought to be grooming his son Gamal to succeed him despite popular opposition.  (*)

Britain, France, Germany urge Mubarak to avoid violence

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron talk prior to participation in a NATO Russia Council meeting at a NATO summit in Lisbon on Saturday Nov. 20, 2010. NATO planned Saturday to deliver a historic invitation for Russia to join a missile shield protecting Europe against Iranian attack, a milestone for an alliance that was built to defend against Soviet forces.(AP Photo/Armando Franca)

Jan 30 (KATAKAMI.COM / EXPATICA.COM) — British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak to avoid violence “at all costs” in a joint statement Saturday.

The three leaders called on Egypt’s embattled president to commit to change in response to what they said were the “legitimate grievances” of his people.

“We are deeply concerned about the events that we are witnessing in Egypt,” said the statement.

“We recognise the moderating role President Mubarak has played over many years in the Middle East. We now urge him to show the same moderation in addressing the current situation in Egypt,” it continued.

“We call on President Mubarak to avoid at all costs the use of violence against unarmed civilians, and on the demonstrators to exercise their rights peacefully.”  (*)

Bibi Netanyahu to ministers: Keep mum on Egypt

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office has reportedly issued strict guidelines to all ministers and government officials not to comment on the current situation in Egypt.

Israel’s foreign ministry is conducting status updates on the volatile situation in Egypt every couple of hours but Tel Aviv has ordered its ministers to refrain from commenting on protests.

Jan 30 (KATAKAMI.COM / PRESS TV.IR) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the foreign ministry announced Friday that they are closely monitoring the situation in Egypt, but are abstaining from commenting on the country’s developments, Ha’aretz reported Saturday.

According to the report, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has also been keeping track of the protests and has been in close contact with Israel’s ambassador to Egypt Yitzhak Levanon.

The prime minister’s office has reportedly issued strict guidelines to all ministers and government officials not to comment on the current situation in Egypt.

“Israel is in no way interested in involving itself in Egypt’s affairs, and therefore we have received clear instructions to keep a low profile in the Egyptian matter,” a senior official in Jerusalem said.

Netanyahu’s order to Israeli ministers comes after an Israeli minister who spoke on condition of anonymity to Israeli media on Thursday had stated that the Egyptian president backed by a strong military prowess will eventually subdue the crisis.

Reports say that 65 people have so far been killed in street battles across the country since the demonstrations started on Tuesday. More than one thousand others have been wounded.

The protesters want Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to end his 30-year rule.

The Egyptian Cabinet on Saturday formally submitted its resignation after Mubarak ordered the dismissal of his ministers in an attempt to quell anti-government protests.

In a live TV address on Friday night, Mubarak said that he had ordered the cabinet to step down and pledged to work for more democracy and press ahead with social, economic and political reforms.   (*)

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