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. (*)

Categories

%d bloggers like this: