Mubarak seeks dialogue with Opposition as army refuses to open fire

PTI Cairo | Updated on February 01, 2011 Published on February 01, 2011

Embattled President Hosni Mubarak has offered to open “immediate talks” with the Opposition groups as pressure mounted on him from the powerful military which termed peoples’ demands as “legitimate” and said it will not fire on protesters.

The offer came as tens of thousands of Egyptians started converging at the Tahrir Square — the hub of the anti-government demonstrations in the heart of Cairo — for their ‘million man march’ to force 82-year-old Mubarak to step down.

“President Hosni Mubarak has tasked me with opening immediate talks with the political forces to begin a dialogue around all the issues concerning constitutional and legislative reforms,” the newly appointed Vice-President, Mr Omar Suleiman, said on state television.

He said steps were underway to implement the decisions of the appeals court contesting the results of autumn legislative elections in certain constituencies, Al Arabia reported.

Mr Suleiman also said the Government would move to “deal as soon as possible with the priorities of fighting unemployment, poverty, corruption and reach the required balance between wages and prices’’.

Amid heavy presence of military and armoured vehicles on the streets in downtown Cairo, protesters waving placards reading ‘down with Mubarak’, ‘Mubarak’s game is over’ spilled on the Tahrir Square. Identity cards of protesters were scrutinised by the army personnel before letting them into the square.

Sensing the strong public sentiments, the military made it clear that it was not out to crush today’s mass anti-government protests and said their demands were “legitimate’’.

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Published on February 01, 2011
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