CAIRO (Reuters) - Egyptians have staged one of their biggest protests yet insisting President Hosni Mubarak step down immediately and ignoring a government plan to transfer power.
For many protesters it was the first time they had joined the daily demonstrations in Cairo's Tahrir Square showing the movement, now in its third week, still has momentum.
Many said they were inspired by a Google executive's tearful televised account of his detention by security forces.
Mubarak has refused to step down, but said neither he nor his son will stand for president in polls due in September. Vice President Omar Suleiman, who has been holding talks with opposition groups, said there was now a road map to hand over power, but protesters were unmoved by the plan.
"The people want the regime to fall," the crowds chanted.
Meanwhile, Suleiman blamed the protests for paralyzing the Egyptian economy.
"The big presence in Tahrir Square and some of the satellite stations which insult Egypt ... make citizens hesitant to go to work," he said.
Suleiman said: "We cannot bear this situation for a long time and we must end this crisis as soon as possible."
Credit Agricole analysts estimate the crisis is costing Egypt $310 million a day.
FRIDAY THE BIG TEST
Government attempts to defuse popular anger have so far fallen flat and the police force, state media and ruling party have all been weakened. Mubarak has the army left, though it has taken a neutral position in the crisis.
For the protesters, maintaining impetus is crucial. Some of them fear that a protracted stalemate will sap enthusiasm and draw more criticism from Egyptians who are not in the street but are feeling the economic impact of the turmoil.
Many in a country where about 40 percent of people live on less than $2 a day are desperate to return to work and normal life, even some of those wanting to oust Mubarak.
A protest called for Friday will be a big test of strength.
The numbers of Tuesday's protest were boosted by Google executive Wael Ghonim's emotional account of being blindfolded during 12 days in detention for Internet activism.
"You are the heroes. I am not a hero, you are the heroes," Ghonim told the cheering crowds.
Copyright 2010 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.
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02/14/2011 4:24 PM EST
Somali Preacher Urges Egypt-Style RevoltAhram Online reports:
A spiritual leader of Somalia's Islamist Shebab rebels called for popular Egypt- and Tunisia-style revolts to topple the government.
Sheikh Jama Abdusalam said such uprisings would rid the war-wracked country of a government that he accused of serving Western interests.
"I am urging the people to carry out Egyptian- and Tunisian-style uprisings in Somalia," Abdusalam told Alfurqaan Radio, a Shebab mouthpiece.
Read more here.
02/14/2011 4:21 PM EST
Clinton To Egyptians 'Don't Let Anyone Hijack The Process'
|@ AlArabiya_Eng : Clinton to Alarabiya: I say to egyptians: don't let anyone hijack the process #alarabiya #Iran #Egypt #clinton|
02/14/2011 4:20 PM EST
Egypt Summary: Today's Events
Egypt's military rulers called for an end to strikes and protests Monday as thousands of state employees, from ambulance drivers to police and transport workers, demonstrated to demand better pay in a growing wave of labor unrest unleashed by the democracy uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak's regime.
The statement by the ruling military council that took power from Mubarak appeared to be a final warning to protest organizers in labor and professional unions before the army intervenes and imposes an outright ban on gatherings, strikes and sit-ins.
Soldiers cleared out almost all the remaining demonstrators from Cairo's Tahrir Square, the giant traffic circle that was turned into a protest camp headquarters for the 18-day revolt. During more than two weeks of round-the-clock demonstrations at the square, protesters set up tents, brought in blankets, operated medical clinics and festooned the entire plaza with giant banners demanding removal of the regime.
Read more here.
02/14/2011 3:51 PM EST
'Rumors' Of More Deaths In BahrainThe Guardian reports:
There are rumours – and let us stress, just rumours at this point – of more deaths in Bahrain following today's protests.
02/14/2011 3:48 PM EST
France Asked To Freeze Assets Of Egypt Officials
|@ felix85 : France says Egypt asks it to freeze possible assets of ex-officials, adding to UK and Germany already today|
02/14/2011 2:59 PM EST
Yemen Protests Continue After Concessions By Regime
Ahram Online reports:
A crowd of about 3,000 protesters, mainly lawyers and students, tried to march from Sanaa University to Al-Tahrir square in the city centre, where [Yemen President] Saleh's supporters have been camped since last week, but were prevented by security forces who erected barbed wire, witnesses reported.
In a move to manage the situation President Saleh halted constitutional procedures which may have allowed him to assume the presidency for life, and possibly pave the way for his son, the chief of the Republican Guard, to succeed him.
02/14/2011 2:50 PM EST
Protester In Bahrain Reported Killed By Security Forces
The Guardian reports:
A major development in Bahrain where there are reports that one person has been killed by security forces during a protest:
According to sources in the hospital, and confirmed by Nabeel Rajab from a Bahraini human rights organisation, Ali Abdulhadi al-Mushaima, 27, was shot in the back with live ammunition. Protesters are incensed.
02/14/2011 2:43 PM EST
Dozens Of Iran Protest Clips On YouTube
|@ thelede : Live Update: Dozens of Iran Protest Clips on YouTube http://nyti.ms/dG1C5M #Egypt #Bahrain #Iran|
02/14/2011 2:42 PM EST
Egypt’s Ruling Generals Meet With Opposition
The New York Times reports:
Two generals sat down Sunday night to talk about their country’s future with seven of the revolution’s young organizers — including the Google marketing executive Wael Ghonim — and the young activists posted their notes on the meeting directly to the Internet for the Egyptian public to see.
“We all sensed a sincere desire to preserve the gains of the revolution and unprecedented respect for the right of young people to express their views,” two of the young organizers, Mr. Ghonim and Amr Salama, wrote in their Facebook posting, with the disclaimer that they were speaking only for themselves. They noted that the generals spoke without any of the usual “parental tone (you do not know what is good for you, son),” and called the encounter “the first time an Egyptian official sat down to listen more than speak.”
Read more here.