Key opposition leader, ElBaradei, joins demonstrators calling for Mubarak to leave

From Al Jazeera, Sunday:

Mohamed ElBaradei, a leading opposition figure, has joined thousands of protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, in continued demonstrations demanding an end to President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule.

 The former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency told the crowd on Sunday night that “what we have begun cannot go back” referring to days of anti-government protests.

The National Coalition for Change, which groups several opposition movements including the Muslim Brotherhood, wants ElBaradei to negotiate with the Mubarak government.

“The people want the regime to fall,” protesters chanted as ElBaradei walked to the centre of the square, holding hands with some demonstrators.

Read the full report here.

Mohamed ElBaradei

Not only is ElBaradei a known entity among opposition circles in Egypt, he is widely respected around the world. He was the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) from December 1997 to November 2009, and ElBaradei and the IAEA were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.

Al Jazeera also reported Sunday that international reaction to the ongoing protests in Egypt has been mixed, with the United States calling for the government of Hosni Mubarak to adopt “real reforms”.

Al Jazeera’s Rosalind Jordan, reporting from Washington DC, said that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would “not favor any transition to a new government where oppression … would take root.”

It’s unclear if that statement would apply to an Egyptian government that included the Muslim Brotherhood party.

Our correspondent also noted that Clinton said that the US would support “an orderly transition” in Egypt, while sidestepping the question of whether Mubarak would be given asylum in the US or in another allied country.

Read the full report here.

Meanwhile, here’s another great article, Death Throes of a Dictatorship, by Robert Fisk, who recently joined demonstrators on top of an Egyptian tank.

News from Facebook this morning is that there are reports of a firefight “near head quarters of the presidential guards Army units in Masr AlGadeeda (Heliopolis) area in Cairo.”

The Associated Press reported that the official death toll from five days of rebellion stood at 97, with thousands injured, but reports from witnesses across the country indicated that the actual toll was far higher.

From a Western observer in Jordan:

 

“As I write this evening the people here in Jordan have been glued to their tvs watching events unfold in Egypt. The internet cafe where we are working is switching the tv back and forth between soccer and events in Egypt.  We are in a smoke-filled room of young men smoking from hookas.

 

“As you are probably aware, Al Jazeera has been shut off in Egypt, as have been internet and wireless phone services. Yet, young people in Egypt have been beating the censors and figuring out how to use dial-up and other ways to get around the media blockade.  Tonight (Sunday) the Arabic channels on live feed here in Jordan show Mohammad al Baradi has joined the demonstrations in Cairo. I have nothing to add at this point in terms of new information, as I presume the information you are getting on the Web, CNN, BBC, etc. is giving pretty good coverage. Our hotel has only one channel, and that is in Arabic.

“It is interesting to watch the Obama administration squirm and evaluate out how it can hedge its bets, but that seems impossible at this point.  The Egyptian pillar of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East is about to fall, and no one at this point can predict where things will go. 

“Like Egypt and Tunisia, Jordan has serious economic problems as well; the price of fuel and food is driving people to distraction.  Gas is over $4.00 per gallon, food prices are going up, and salaries are low. Earlier this week there were demonstrations in Amman against a sharp rise in fuel prices.  A young high school teacher, with whom we spoke, makes about $300 per month and  wants to leave his country, but doesn’t know where to go or what to do. We will be in Israel and the West Bank late in the day on Tuesday.”

 

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