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.   (*)

PM Netanyahu: Israel will monitor but not comment on Egypt protests

FILE : In this handout image provided by the Israeli Government Press Office (GPO), Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) shakes hands with Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak during their meeting on January 6, 2011 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak to discuss the stalemate between Israelis and Palestinians in peace negotiations which resumed for the first time in two years in September 2010. (Photo by Moshe Milner/GPO via Getty Images)

The Foreign Ministry is conducting status updates on Egypt every couple of hours and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has been maintaining close contact with Israel’s ambassador to Egypt.

Jan 30 (KATAKAMI.COM / HAARETZ) — Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Israel Foreign Ministry announced Friday that they are keeping close track of the volatile situation in neighboring Egypt, but are refraining from taking a political stance.

The Foreign Ministry is conducting status updates on Egypt every couple of hours and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has been keeping abreast on the protests while maintaining close contact with Israel’s ambassador to Egypt, Yitzhak Levanon.

At this stage, Israeli diplomatic families will remain in Cairo until further notice.

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

A senior official in Jerusalem said, “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.”

The American government has adopted a different strategy, with President Barak Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs all discussing Egypt’s current chaotic predicament in televised addresses Friday.

In his speech Friday evening, President Obama called on the government and protesters to resolve the current situation peacefully on both sides. He implored the Egyptian government to lift the ban it has placed on the internet and allow civilians to resume their use of social media outlets to promote their cause.

President Obama pledged America’s support, stating “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.”  (*)

Egypt's president names deputy for 1st time

An anti-government protester cries out after seeing the body of another who was shot by police moments before, in Tahrir square in downtown Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011. Thousands of anti-government protesters returned to Cairo's central Tahrir Square, chanting slogans against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and demanding his departure. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

CAIRO, Jan 30  (KATAKAMI.COM / AP)  – With protests raging, President Hosni Mubarak named his intelligence chief as his first-ever vice president on Saturday_ setting the stage for a successor as demands for the longtime leader’s ouster showed no sign of abating. The death toll rose from five days of anti-government protests rose sharply to 74.

The capital descended further into chaos, with gangs of thugs setting fires and looting shops and homes. Residents and shopkeepers in affluent neighborhoods were boarding up their houses and stores against the looters roaming the streets with knives and sticks and gunfire was heard in some neighborhoods.

Tanks and armored personnel carriers fanned out across the city of 18 million, guarding key government buildings. Egyptian television reported the army was deploying reinforcements to neighborhoods to try to control the lawlessness.

The military was protecting major tourist and archaeological sites such as the Egyptian Museum, home to some of the country’s most treasured antiquities, as well as the Cabinet building. The military closed the pyramids on the outskirts of Cairo — Egypt’s premiere tourist site.

Thousands of protesters defied the curfew for the second night, standing their ground in the main Tahrir Square in a resounding rejection of Mubarak’s attempt to hang onto power with promises of reform and a new government.

Police protecting the Interior Ministry near the site opened fire at a funeral procession for a dead protester as it was passing through the crowd, possibly because it came too close to the force. Clashes broke out and at least two people were killed.

A 43-year-old teacher, Rafaat Mubarak, said the appointment of the president’s intelligence chief and longtime confidant Omar Sulieman as vice president did not satisfy the protesters.

“This is all nonsense. They will not fool us anymore. We want the head of the snake,” he said in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria. “If he is appointed by Mubarak, then he is just one more member of the gang. We are not speaking about a branch in a tree, we are talking about the roots.”

The protesters are unified in one overarching demand — Mubarak and his family must go. The movement is a culmination of years of simmering frustration over a government they see as corrupt, heavy-handed and neglectful of grinding poverty.

Egyptians were emboldened to take to the streets by the uprising in Tunisia — another North African Arab nation, and further buoyed by their success in defying the government ban on all gatherings.

At the end of a long day of rioting and mass demonstrations Friday that was the peak of five days of protests, Mubarak sacked his Cabinet and promised reforms. But that did not satisfy the demonstrators, who were out in force again Saturday to demand a complete change of regime.

The president had been seen as grooming his son Gamal to succeed him, possibly even as soon as in presidential elections planned for later this year. However, there was significant public opposition to the hereditary succession.

The appointment of Suleiman, 74, answers one of the most intriguing and enduring political questions in Egypt: Who will succeed 82-year-old Mubarak?

Another question is whether his appointment will calm the seething streets of Egypt’s cities.

Mubarak appointed Suleiman shortly after the U.S. said he needed to take concrete action to achieve “real reform.” Suleiman is well known and respected by American officials and has traveled to Washington many times.

Before word that Mubarak had picked his first vice president, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said the U.S. wanted to see Mubarak fulfill his pledges of reform as protests swept the country.

“The Egyptian government can’t reshuffle the deck and then stand pat,” Crowley said on his Twitter account. “President Mubarak’s words pledging reform must be followed by action.”

The crackdown on protesters has drawn harsh criticism from the Obama administration and even a threat Friday to reduce a $1.5 billion foreign aid program if Washington’s most important Arab ally escalates the use of force.

As the army presence expanded in Cairo Saturday, police largely disappeared from the streets — possibly because their presence fueled violence with the public. Egyptian police are hated for their brutality.

On Friday, 17 police stations throughout Cairo were torched, with protesters stealing firearms and ammunition and setting some jailed suspects free. They also burned dozens of police trucks in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez. On Saturday, protesters besieged a police station in the Giza neighborhood of Cairo, looted and pulled down Egyptian flags before burning the building to the ground.

But there have been no clashes reported between protesters and the military at all and many feel the army is with them and they show the soldiers affection.

One army captain joined the demonstrators in Tahrir Square, who hoisted him on their shoulders while chanting slogans against Mubarak. The officer ripped a picture of the president.

“We don’t want him! We will go after him!” demonstrators shouted. They decried looting and sabotage, saying: “Those who love Egypt should not sabotage Egypt!”

Some 200 inmates escaped a jail on the outskirts of the city, starting a fire first to cover their breakout. Eight inmates were killed during the escape.

On Saturday, feelings of joy mixed with frustration in Cairo. Protesters were jubilant that they managed to sustain the momentum for five days and frustrated over the looting and Mubarak’s refusal to step down.

“This is the revolution of people of all walks of life,” read black graffiti scrolled on one army tank in Tahrir Square. “Mubarak, take your son and leave,” it said.

“To hell with Mubarak; We don’t serve individuals. We serve this country that we love, just like you,” yelled another soldier to protesters from atop a tank scrawled with graffiti that said: “Down with Mubarak!”

Like Mubarak, Suleiman has a military background. The powerful military has provided Egypt with its four presidents since the monarchy was toppled nearly 60 years ago. He has been in charge of some of Egypt’s most sensitive foreign policy issues, including the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.

Suleiman, additionally, is widely seen as a central regime figure, a position that protesters were likely to view negatively.

Mubarak also named his new prime minister Ahmed Shafiq, the outgoing civil aviation minister and fellow former air force officer.

Both appointments perpetuate the military’s overriding role in Egyptian politics.

Suleiman’s frequent trips to Israel could be taken against him by a population that continues to view the Jewish state as their sworn enemy more than 30 years after the two neighbors signed a peace treaty.

With the two occupying the country’s most important jobs after the president from the military, Gamal, a banker-turned-politician, looks definitely out of the running for his father’s job.

A leaked U.S. diplomatic memo said Gamal and his clique of ruling party stalwarts and businessmen were gaining confidence in 2007 about controlling the reins of power in Egypt and that they were confident that Mubarak would eventually dump Suleiman, who was seen as a threat by Gamal and his coterie of aides.

Gamal launched his political career within the ranks of the ruling National Democratic Party, climbed over the past 10 years to become its de facto leader, dictating economic policies and bolstering his own political standing.

Gamal’s close aide and confidant, steel tycoon Ahmed Ezz, resigned from the party on Saturday, according to state television. Gamal and Ezz are suspected of orchestrating the rigging of the last parliamentary election in November, making sure the ruling party won all but a small fraction of the chamber’s 518 seats.

“There is nothing short of Mubarak leaving power that will satisfy the people,” Mohamed ElBaradei, the country’s leading pro-reform activist told The Associated Press on Saturday. “I think what Mubarak said yesterday was an insult to the intelligence of the Egyptian people.”

Buildings, statues and even armored security vehicles were covered in anti-Mubarak graffiti, including the words “Mubarak must fall,” which by morning had been written over to say “Mubarak fell.”

The military extended the hours of the night curfew imposed Friday in the three major cities where the worst violence has been seen — Cairo, Alexandria and Suez. State television said it would begin at 4 p.m. and last until 8 a.m., longer than the 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. ban Friday night that appeared to not have been enforced.

Internet appeared blocked for a second day to hamper protesters who use social networking sites to organize. And after cell phone service was cut for a day Friday, two of the country’s major providers were up and running Saturday.

In the capital on Friday night, hundreds of young men carted away televisions, fans and stereo equipment looted from the ruling National Democratic Party, near the Egyptian Museum. Young men formed a human barricade in front of the museum to protect one of Egypt’s most important tourist attractions.

Others around the city looted banks, smashed cars, tore down street signs and pelted armored riot police vehicles with paving stones torn from roadways.

Banks and the stock market will be closed on Sunday, the first day of the week, because of the turmoil.  (*)

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