Egyptian protesters remain, central bank intervenes

10:16, February 10, 2011      

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Thousands of protesters remained in downtown Cairo on Wednesday, insisting that President Hosni Mubarak leave office, while Egypt's central bank has started to intervene to save the country's sinking currency.

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, the country's largest opposition organization, said Wednesday that it insisted there would be no dialogue without the departure of the current government.

Although the government has had dialogue with the opposition parties and established committees to amend the constitution and carry out reforms, the protesters said they would keep on protesting as long as the 82-year-old Mubarak stays in power.

Poverty and the government's support for Israel were the two main reasons behind the protests, Ashraf Abdel Ghaffar, one of the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, said at a press conference in Turkey on Tuesday.

In the oasis town of El Kharga, south of Cairo, at least two people were killed and several hundreds were injured in clashes between the police and demonstrators on Tuesday night.

The recent unrest in Egypt, which erupted on Jan.25, has led to a sharp drop of the Egyptian currency against the U.S. dollar. The Egyptian pound plunged to a nearly six-year low of 5.9615 against the U.S.dollar on Monday.

The Central Bank of Egypt intervened on Tuesday to halt the slump of the Egyptian pound. It was the first time in two years for the central bank to back up the country's currency by pumping in large quantities of U. S. dollars.

The Egyptian pound rebound steadily on Tuesday,closing at 5.870 to the dollar. Hisham Ramez, the Central Bank's deputy governor, said Tuesday that the bank is monitoring the currency market closely and stands ready to aggressively interfere.

On Tuesday,the bank also joined hands with the country's Finance Ministry to issue Egyptian treasury bonds worth 13 billion Egyptian pounds (2.2 billion U.S.dollars). The move was believed to be an effort to boost confidence in the country's economy over the current unrest.

The central bank had said that its foreign currency reserves stood at 36 billion U.S. dollars and could help keep stability in the market.

The Central Bank intervened directly in early 2009 during the world economic crisis.

The bank's governor Farouk el-Okda last Friday told the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that Egypt was not in need of any monetary or financial assistance to compensate losses during the massive protests as it planned to take local measures to face the current crisis.

The international communities continued to show concern over the situation in Egypt.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday called for "an orderly and peaceful transition" in Egypt and voiced his hope that "genuine dialogue between the leaders and the people will lead to the beginning of such a process".

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday spoke with Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman by telephone, expressing American support for an orderly transition in Egypt.

Biden said the transition should produce "an immediate, irreversible progress" that responds to the aspirations of the Egyptian people.

Russia on Tuesday proposed that the U.N. Security Council should dispatch a mission to the Middle East.

Source: Xinhua

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