Pressure mounts on Mubarak from EU and US

5th February 2011, Comments 0 comments

Hundreds of thousands of defiant Egyptians marched peacefully in Cairo on Friday to demand and end to President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule. In a joint statement, the leaders of the 27 EU states have called on the Egyptian authorities to start the country's transition "now".

EU statement Responding to criticism that Europe in the past backed authoritarian regimes in the region as a bulwark against Islamist extremists, the leaders promised a new chapter in its foreign policy thinking. EU leaders were "committed to a new partnership involving more effective support in the future to those countries which are pursuing political and economic reforms," their statement said. The uprising of both peoples were in line with the values the European Union promotes for itself and throughout the world, the statement added.

US urges transition of power The US urged the Egyptian government to take "concrete steps" towards an orderly transition of power and warned that without such measure unrest was likely to persist. The White House sought to play down reports that it had talked to Egyptian officials about President Mubarak resigning immediately and handing over to a transitional government led by Vice President Omar Suleiman.

Peaceful "Departure Day" After Friday prayers, some 200,000 people headed to Cairo's Tahrir Square in an 11th day of unprecendented mass rallies to try to topple Mr Mubarak. People were chanting "Leave, leave, leave!", waving Egyptian flags and singing the national anthem, with a strong military presence keeping pro-Mubarak activists away to prevent any bloodshed. Today's demonstrations did not have the bloody nature of the past days. While thousands of people turned out in the coastal city of Alexandria, the nationwide seemed short of the more than one million seen on Tuesday. Leaders had hoped to match on what they called "Departure Day", a week after last Friday's "Day of Wrath" to voice rage over poverty, repression and corruption

Journalists protected The army was ordered to protect foreign correspondents against gangs of Mubarak supporters. On Wednesday and Thursday, dozens of foreign journalists were victims of pro-Mubarak demonstrators. A Dutch cameraman, Eric Feijten, was arrested by Egyptian authorities and forced to leave the country.

Human rights organizations Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said they still had no information on some of their employees who were arrested on Thursday along with several activists. Two Amnesty employees, a HRW member of staff, several Egyptian activists, a French and a Portuguese journalist, and nine lawyers were taken away under military escort. The EU condemned attacks on journalists and activists covering the unrest in Egypt.

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