Saturday, January 29, 2011

AFRICA: EGYPT: 50 KILLED IN CLASHES AGAINST MUBARAK

ASIA NEWS REPORT: Thousands of demonstrators occupy the streets of major cities. The government has announced its resignation, but people want the "fall of the regime”. Mobile phone lines partly restored, internet still down. Obama calls for non-violent response of the Egyptian government, China censors the word "Egypt" on the web.

Cairo (AsiaNews / Agencies)-Thousands of protesters continue to occupy the streets of major cities in Egypt, calling for the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak.The toll from the protests - that erupted yesterday after Friday prayers - has reached 50 dead, a thousand injured, hundreds of arrests. Overnight people have defied the curfew imposed by the authorities, while the Head of State announced a change of government, but excluded his resignation. Meanwhile, China has censored the word "Egypt" from websites and the governments of Japan and the Philippines have invited nationals not to travel in the country.

Yesterday evening Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak spoke to the nation in an attempt to avert the worst social and political crisis since coming to power 30 years ago. He announced the resignation of the government and the birth of a new formation, accepting the "legitimate" demands of the demonstrators, but at the same time accusing them of "fostering" violence to "destabilize" the country. In the morning, the government announced its resignation.

Police are guarding the corridors of power and TV headquarters, but seem unwilling to attack the demonstrators. Al Jazeera sources in Suez report that the military wants to avoid an open confrontation with protesters. A military official confirmed that troops "will not shoot a single bullet against Egyptians."

The protests erupted yesterday after the Friday prayers with thousands of people flooding the main streets of Cairo, Alexandria and Suez. The protesters defied the curfew, with demonstrations continuing even during the night. This morning in the capital, several groups of people gathered in Tahrir Square, chanting songs and slogans, including "[Mubarak] Go away! Go away. "

The toll from the violence has risen to 50 dead and a thousand injured. In Alexandria 23 people died, 15 are confirmed dead in Suez and another 15 in Cairo. Popular discontent shows no sign of diminishing despite the news of the resignation of the government, the goal of the social unrest - which unites Christians and Muslims - is "the fall of the regime, not the change of the executive."

Yesterday the police detained Mohamed ElBaradei, former head of the UN's nuclear body and Egyptian opposition leader for a few hours. He was arrested after prayers at a mosque in the Giza area, then was released so as to join the protesters who marched through the streets of the capital.

Meanwhile, local sources confirm that phone lines are operational - at least in part – after the crackdown imposed yesterday by authorities involving the web, cell phones and text messages. In contrast, internet is still down throughout the country today.

The United States and world governments are closely following the riots that have erupted in north Africa and the Middle East, stemming from the ouster two weeks ago of Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali after a popular revolt. Discontent is also evident in Jordan, where King Abdullah II has announced reforms, and in Yemen. The U.S. president Barack Obama has called on Egypt’s Mubarak to meet the demands of democracy and economic freedoms demanded by the population.Obama also added that a violent response will not help resolve the situation and alleviate the suffering of the people. Previously, the White House spokesman Robert Gibbs asserted that the U.S. would have "revised" its aid program in the coming days.

The governments of Japan and the Philippines have invited their fellow citizens not to travel to Egypt. To those who are already in the country, are being advised not to leave their homes and embark on the first available flight. Finally, the Chinese government has censored the word "Egypt" on the web, with a terse statement that appears on the search engine: "According to the laws in force the results of your search can not be communicated". The censorship also involves the major social networks. Instead the mainstream media - news agency and television - have reported on the riots and protests against President Mubarak.

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