lunes, 31 de enero de 2011

Egypt protesters vow to step up pressure

 Tens of thousands of people have gathered in central Cairo for a seventh day of protest, calling for a general strike. Police have been ordered back to the streets, to positions they abandoned on Friday, but it is not clear whether they are returning to central Cairo.
The demonstrators are also planning a huge march to take place on Tuesday.
Protesters want President Hosni Mubarak to step down after 30 years in power, but he has promised political reform.
The president has ordered his new Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq to push through democratic reforms and create new jobs.
Correspondents say all the signs continue to suggest that the only change the protesters will settle for is Mr Mubarak's removal from office.
Meanwhile Moodys Investor Services downgraded Egypt's bond rating and changed its outlook from stable to negative, following a similar move by Fitch Ratings last week. Both cited the political crisis.
'Protest of millions' But there were signs of disagreement within the opposition, with the largest group, the Muslim Brotherhood, appearing to go back on its endorsement of leading figure Mohamed ElBaradei as a negotiator with Mr Mubarak.
An Egyptian demonstrator sits on top of a set of traffic lights in Tahrir Square in central in Cairo, 30 January 2011 Protesters in Tahrir Square say they will stay there until President Mubarak leaves
As demonstrations enter their seventh day, correspondents say there are at least 50,000 people on Tahrir Square in the centre of the city.
Elsewhere the streets are busy and things appear to be returning to normal, says the BBC's Tim Wilcox in Cairo.
There are plans for a "protest of the millions" march on Tuesday.
On Sunday, most of the crowd in Cairo's Tahrir (Liberation) Square were unfazed by low-flying air force jets and a helicopter.
"Change is coming," promised Mr ElBaradei when he addressed the crowds.
The octogenarian leader is coming under increasing international pressure to allow a smooth transition, diplomatic speak for asking him to resign and give way for democratic reforms.
Mr Mubarak's regime shows no sign of movement yet.
Indeed by ordering tanks into Cairo's main square and sending fighter jets to fly low over the protesters, he may be flexing his considerable military might, sending out a clear warning to his critics.
But the demonstrators still feel they have the upper hand, and the numbers to overthrow Mr Mubarak's deeply unpopular government.
Mr ElBaradei has been mandated by opposition groups to negotiate with the regime.
But a spokesman for the largest opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, appeared to reject this position.
"The people have not appointed Mohamed ElBaradei to become a spokesman of them," Mohamed Morsy told the BBC.
"The Muslim Brotherhood is much stronger than Mohamed ElBaradei as a person. And we do not agree on he himself to become representing [sic] this movement, the movement is represented by itself, and it will come up with a committee... to make delegations with any government."
Thousands rallied in Alexandria and there were also sizeable demonstrations in Mansoura, Damanhour and Suez.
Police were noticeable by their absence so the protests were not marked by the sort of clashes which have left at least 100 people dead since rallies began on Tuesday.
But with continued reports of looting, the Interior Minister Habib al-Adly announced on Sunday that police would be back on the streets to restore order.
Economic impact The unrest is having an impact on the Egyptian economy, beyond the closure of shops and businesses and the call for a general strike.
  • Most populous Arab nation, with 84.5 million inhabitants
  • Authoritarian rule for 30 years under President Hosni Mubarak
  • Protests against corruption, lack of democracy, inflation, unemployment
  • Triggered by overthrow of President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia 
On Monday, New Zealand joined a growing list of countries warning their nationals not to travel to Egypt if they can avoid it and the US, Japan and China are among states preparing to evacuate their citizens.
Tourism is a vital sector in the Egyptian economy, accounting for about 5 to 6% of GDP.
Meanwhile, Japanese car maker Nissan has announced that it is halting production at its Egypt plant for a week, and it has urged non-Egyptian employees to leave the country.
Global markets are also likely to react. The Nikkei fell in early trading in Tokyo as the Egyptian unrest prompted investors to shun riskier assets.
'Orderly transition' International pressure is growing for some kind of resolution.
Anti-government protesters walk past wall graffiti reading Antique dictator 4 sale, Cairo, Egypt, 30 January 2011 A slogan on a Cairo wall shows some humor amid the violence
In the strongest language yet, both US President Barack Obama and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talked about the need for an "orderly transition" to a democratic future for Egypt.
The White House says Mr Obama made a number of calls about the situation over the weekend to foreign leaders including Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and British Prime Minister David Cameron.
The protests in Egypt are top of the agenda of a meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday.
China, meanwhile, has called for a return to order.
"Egypt is a friend of China's, and we hope social stability and order will return to Egypt as soon as possible," a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said on Sunday.
The unrest in Egypt follows the uprising in Tunisia which ousted President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali two weeks ago after 23 years in power.