domingo, 30 de enero de 2011

Egypt protests: Anti-Mubarak protesters take over Cairo

Wyre Davies reports from Cairo on a sixth day of anti-government protests 
Protesters have taken over the centre of the Egyptian capital Cairo on the sixth day of demonstrations against the rule of President Hosni Mubarak.
The police, who have been involved in violent clashes with protesters in recent days, have largely disappeared from the streets.
There is a heavy military presence in the city, but soldiers are not intervening.
The government has announced that al-Jazeera must halt operating in Egypt.
The Arabic TV channel, which has been showing blanket coverage of the protests, says it has yet to receive a formal order from the authorities.
Clashes between protesters and the security forces - mostly riot police - are reported to have left at least 100 people dead across Egypt since rallies began on Tuesday. Thousands have been injured as violence has flared in cities including Cairo, Suez and Alexandria.
Vacuum of authority In Cairo, many protesters defied an overnight curfew to camp out in Tahrir (Liberation) Square, the focal point of the demonstrations in the city.
Chants of "Mubarak, Mubarak, the plane awaits" could be heard on Sunday morning, a reference to protesters' hopes that President Mubarak will step down and leave Egypt.

Analysis

In spite of the turmoil, one or two things are becoming clearer here. It looks pretty likely that President Mubarak and his military leaders have been told in no uncertain fashion by the Americans that the Tiananmen Square option, by which the authorities restore order by shooting the protesters down by the hundred, is simply not acceptable.
Mr Mubarak's only hope, therefore, is to form a government which the demonstrators might accept, hard though that is to imagine. He's now appointed a new prime minister and a new vice-president - Omar Suleiman, the head of military intelligence.
Mr Suleiman isn't just a secret policeman: he's also an experienced diplomatic negotiator, respected in the West. But tonight, the crowds have been chanting slogans against him as well.
If the new government can't calm the anger in the streets, it's hard to see how President Mubarak can stay in power. Hard, too, to think that the Americans, who keep Egypt afloat with their money, would want him to.
Omar Suleiman, the new vice-president, once saved President Mubarak's life in an assassination attempt. Saving him a second time may prove more of a problem.
Many protesters once again climbed onto tanks and armoured vehicles around the square, with many soldiers apparently on friendly terms with the anti-Mubarak demonstrators.
Sunday is the start of the working week in the Middle East, but many businesses in the capital are closed. Internet access remains intermittent.
The BBC's Jeremy Bowen says that although key government buildings are under heavy guard, there appears to be a vacuum of authority in large areas of the city.
Throughout the city, armed citizens' groups have formed to respond to the widespread looting and disorder that has accompanied the growing sense of lawlessness.
Across Egypt, thousands of prisoners are reported to have escaped from jails after overpowering their guards.
Travel advice Western leaders have urged President Mubarak to avoid violence and enact reforms.
Mr Mubarak has appointed a vice-president - intelligence chief Omar Suleiman - as he struggles to regain control. Aviation Minister Ahmed Shafiq has been appointed prime minister.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said his government is watching events in Egypt carefully, and hoping to maintain peaceful relations with its Arab neighbour.
The Rafah crossing between Egypt and the southern Gaza Strip is closed, Palestinian officials say.
The US government, which previously had advised US citizens against non-essential travel to Egypt, is now advising Americans in Egypt to consider leaving the country as soon as possible.
The UK has advised against all but essential travel to Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor and Suez.
A number of other European countries have also advised against visiting the country.
The unrest in Egypt follows an uprising in Tunisia two weeks ago which toppled President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali after 23 years in power.
The Tunisian upheaval began with anger over rising food prices, high unemployment and anger at official corruption - problems which have also left many people in Egypt feeling frustrated and resentful of their leadership.