Egypt braces for planned mass protests following deadly clashes

14:48, February 04, 2011      

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Egypt is bracing for a massive demonstration on Friday after at least eight people have been killed in two days of violent clashes in Cairo that followed President Hosni Mubarak's announcement that he would step down in September.

Egypt has been mired in the largest mass protests in 30 years, which challenged the rule of Mubarak. The protests, still showing no sign of a quick end, have left more than 100 dead and several thousand people injured, and greatly disrupted the normal life of citizens due to closure of shops and disruption of rail and air services.

Some opposition groups have planned to intensify protests to force Mubarak out on Friday, which was speculated as potentially critical.

In a 30-minute exclusive interview with ABC television network on Thursday, Mubarak, 82, facing great pressure from both at home and his former allies abroad, said he is "fed up" with being president and would like to leave office, but added that he could not resign now for fear that the country would sink into chaos.

He told ABC's Christiane Amanpour at the presidential palace in Cairo that he is troubled by the violence over the last few days, but his government is not responsible for it.

"I was very unhappy about yesterday, I do not want to see Egyptians fighting each other," Mubarak said.

Mubarak spoke as deadly clashes between his opponents and supporters raged for a second day, leaving at least six dead and more than 800 injured -- which was widely viewed as a dangerous turning point in Egypt's upheaval, and after his vice president urged protesters to go home and give the government a chance to protect them and restore normal life in Egypt.

In the ABC interview, Mubarak blamed the Muslim Brotherhood, a banned political party in Egypt, for the violence.

There were reports that some foreign reporters had been attacked in the last two days.

Vice President Omar Suleiman, who was appointed last week, on Thursday also noted in an interview with Egyptian state TV that the government has started dialogue with the opposition parties and representatives of protesters to end the mass protests that began on Jan. 25, and that the Muslim Brotherhood has been invited but they are still hesitant.

Suleiman said he is meeting the representatives of Egyptian youth and other opposition parties in the coming two days.

Regarding the constitutional amendments, he said they would be left to public referendum, but he added that the amendments will require 70 days to pass.

Meanwhile, Suleiman, the former intelligence chief, said that the violence that happened in the Tahrir Square, the center of the mass protests, on Wednesday night, was a conspiracy.

Some people had their own agendas to exploit the youth revolution for their own interests, Suleiman said, indicating that they may be businessmen, foreign elements or militia infiltrators.

Neither the president nor his son Gamal Mubarak will run for the presidency, Suleiman reiterated.

Source: Xinhua
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