Top Leadership In Egypt Resigns, Mubarak Has Not Quit - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Top Leadership In Egypt Resigns, Mubarak Has Not Quit

MSNBC - Contrary to media reports, President Hosni Mubarak has not quit as head of Egypt's ruling party and remains in office, NBC News confirmed Saturday.

The top leadership body of Egypt's ruling party, including Mubarak's son Gamal Mubarak, had resigned Saturday in an earlier gesture apparently aimed at convincing anti-government protesters that the regime is serious about reform, Egyptian state TV reported.

Reuters and Al-Jazeera reported, via Egyptian state TV, that the 82-year-old Mubarak had also stepped down as the leader of the ruling party, but remained president. Reports by Al Arabiya  were later withdrawn.

Mubarak has reshuffled his government but has maintained that he intends to stay on as president until elections in September.

A U.S. official called the resignations a positive step, but said the administration looked forward to "additional steps."

Protesters, however, have shrugged off concessions by the regime in the past 12 days of unprecedented street demonstrations, saying they will settle for nothing less than the immediate ouster of Mubarak, Egypt's ruler for nearly 30 years.

The ruling party's six-member Steering Committee of the General Secretariat resigned and was replaced. The council was the party's highest decision-making body, and Safwat el-Sharif and other outgoing members were some of the most powerful — and to many Egyptians, unpopular — political figures in the regime.

Protesters have refused to end their mass rallies in downtown Tahrir Square until Mubarak quits. Tens of thousands gathered Saturday in Tahrir, waving flags and chanting a day after some 100,000 massed there in an intensified demonstration labeled "the day of departure," in hopes it would be the day Mubarak leaves.

From its side, the government has sought to draw opposition parties and the youth groups involved in the protests into immediate negotiations on constitutional reforms so presidential elections can be held in September to replace Mubarak. Protest organizers, wary of a trap, have refused until Mubarak goes.

At a press conference aired on state TV, Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq suggested the government hopes to convince enough factions to enter talks that the others will be forced to join in. Asked whether the Muslim Brotherhood, for example, will enter talks, Shafiq said, "Once they find the others are negotiation, for sure they will or they will be left alone ... The level of aspirations is going down day by day."

He noted that the protesters had changed their slogan from "day of departure" to a "week of steadfastness," saying that this was "because they failed on Friday" in forcing out Mubarak. "All this leads to stability," he said.

The government and military have promised not to try to clear protesters from Tahrir, and soldiers guarding the square continued to let people enter to join the growing rally.

But there were signs of tension Saturday. At one point, army tanks tried to brought out tanks to try to bulldoze away several burned out vehicles that protesters used in barricades during fighting this week with pro-regime attackers. The protesters say they want the gutted chassis in place in case of a new attack. Protesters clambered onto the vehicles and lay down in front of them to prevent soldiers from removing them, and only after heated arguments did the troops agree.

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