By Staff writer
Tens of thousands fill central Cairo’s Tahrir Square in the biggest show yet of anti-government rage
Egyptian protesters poured into downtown Cairo Tuesday demanding
President Hosni Mubarak’s resignation as the political turmoil that has
ricocheted through the region in the past month spread to Jordan.
As tens of thousands filled central Cairo’s Tahrir Square in
the biggest show of anti-government dissent, Jordanian Prime Minister Samir
Rifai quit and King Abdullah asked his replacement to begin the process of
“genuine” change. The demonstrations followed the revolt in Tunisia that ousted
President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali on January 14.
Egypt’s unprecedented protests have left more than 100
people dead and roiled international stock, bond and oil markets, with
investors concerned they may spread to nearby countries or lead to the closure
of the Suez Canal.
Egypt is one of the biggest recipients of US aid, and
Mubarak has backed efforts to encourage Arab acceptance of Israel, oppose
Iran’s nuclear program and blockade the Gaza Strip.
“The people are united in their demand for Mubarak to
leave,” said Hani El-Husseini, an official with the Tagammu opposition party,
said by phone from Cairo. “The march of the one million people will succeed.
People are coming in from other provinces.”
Opposition groups called for a nationwide strike.
Newly appointed Vice President Omar Suleiman said late
yesterday that Mubarak instructed him to start a dialogue with the protesters.
The military promised not to fire on marchers and said that it recognized “the
legitimacy of the people’s demands.”
Tahrir Square, the center of the demonstrations against
Mubarak’s 30-year rule, was strewn with signs of the unrest that began January
A charred police truck stood at its center today, stuffed
with garbage. Protesters put up a sign over it, saying: “The New Headquarters
of the National Democratic Party.”
The nearby central
office of Mubarak’s group was burned down last week.
The plaza honours the 1952 revolution in which the Egyptian
military overthrew the monarchy and proclaimed a republic.
“It’s the end,”
Khalil al-Anani, a political analyst in the Middle East department of
Birmingham University in England, expert on Islamic movements, said today in a
telephone interview. “People think this is their golden chance to topple a
dictator and to get rid of a very authoritarian regime and to have a new
The Internet remained largely shut down for a fourth day in
the Arab world’s most populous nation. Google and Twitter have begun offering a
way to Egyptians to stay linked using a voice connection. Dial-up Internet
connections are also being used to circumvent the blockage. Mobile-phone voice
services, run by local units of Vodafone Group and France Telecom, were restored
on January 29, after a government-ordered shutdown.
The country’s railway system was ordered to be shut down for
security reasons, with the exception of a few trains from Cairo to Alexandria,
Sayed Tabbagh, vice president of the Railway Authority, said by telephone.
Mubarak yesterday revamped his government with appointments
including Mahmoud Wagdy as interior minister to replace Habib El-Adli, who had
been denounced by the protesters.
In his televised speech, Suleiman, an intelligence chief
known for his role as a mediator in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, said that
the government’s priority is to fight corruption and restore confidence in the
Finance Minister Samir Radwan said today on state television
that he will keep government subsidies intact “despite the rising prices” of
commodities. He said those who lost their jobs because of the unrest will be
paid unemployment benefits.