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Posted by : Mahadi Mahbol Sabtu, Februari 05, 2011

Menurut Akhbar The Guardian , Sebuah gereja di Rafah Gaza, berhampiran dengan Sempadan Mesir telah pun meletup , Keadaan masih lagi tidak dapat diketahui status keadaannya.

Amplify’d from www.guardian.co.uk

Somewhat contrary to Jack Shenker's earlier article about the consensus reached by Egyptian opposition groups over what should happen to bring about a transition of power, Reuters reports that they have yet to agree on a common position.

The proposal being promoted by a group of Egyptians calling itself the "The Council of Wise Men" involves Suleiman assuming presidential powers for an interim period pending elections.
But some opposition figures argue that would mean the next presidential election would be held under the same unfair conditions as in previous years. They want to first form a new parliament to change the constitution to pave the way for a presidential vote that is democratic.
The "Wise Men" proposal is based on article 139 of the constitution that would allow Mubarak to hand his powers to his deputy while staying on as figurehead.
"Under debate now is article 139 which transfers the president's executive powers to Omar Suleiman and Mubarak remains as a figurehead until September," Diaa Rashwan, an expert at the al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies and one of the "Wise Men", told Reuters.
Handing power to Suleiman offers a potential compromise between protesters' demands for Mubarak to leave office immediately and his stated decision to stay on until the end of his term in September.
Rashwan said all opposition factions and forces, including the influential Muslim Brotherhood, were invited to Saturday's talks. He said some groups have expressed reservations about the president staying on even in a symbolic role.
"Consultations are continuing to find an end to this crisis," he added.
The main opposition groups comprise the Brotherhood, the National Coalition for Change led by Nobel peace laureate and former IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei, the Kefaya movement and youth represented by the April Sixth Movement, the liberal Wafd party and the leftist Tagammu party.
Even if they all agree on the proposal, article 82 of the constitution could present a legal complication. It says that while the president is able to delegate powers to a deputy, that person is not allowed to request constitutional amendments or dissolve the parliament or shura councils.
If that article holds, it would be impossible for a Suleiman-led administration to carry out the constitutional reforms promised by Mubarak in response to the protests.
Without constitutional changes, a presidential election in September would have to run under the same rules that opposition parties say stack all the cards in favour of Mubarak's ruling party and effectively rule out an effective rival bid.
The Brotherhood said discussions were still taking place a among the factions to seek a common ground.
"Until now there is no agreement among the various parties and factions on one scenario," Mohammed Morsy, a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood, told Reuters.
He said his Islamist group was proposing that the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court takes over power as stipulated by the constitution since parliament has been effectively suspended since the unrest erupted last month.
"The head of the supreme court will then call for parliamentary elections and the elected parliament can amend the necessary clauses in the constitution in order to conduct fair and honest presidential elections," Morsy said.
"Most of the clauses in the constitution concern the president ... The president has to go. We are trying to find a constitutional way out if the president is no longer in his post."

There has been an explosion at a church in Rafah in the Gaza Strip, near the border with Egypt, Reuters reports.

The cause and the scale of the blast are not yet clear, according to the news agency.

Witnesses said they saw several armed men around the church but it was not clear whether they were involved. Smoke rose from the Mari Gerges church, which was empty of people, they added.

The Egyptian government blamed the Gaza-based Army of Islam for a New Year's Day church bombing in Alexandria that killed 23 people. The group denies the charge.

Reuters has a report on the impact of the political unrest in Egypt on the stalled peace negotions between Israel and the Palestinians.

The quartet of Middle East peace negotiators said today they will give high priority to the impact of Egypt crisis on the negotiations, but would not allow the situation to derail the peace talks.

In a draft statement due to be endorsed by the UN, the European Union, Russia and the US, the quartet said further delays in resuming talks would be "detrimental to prospects for regional peace and security".

Israel has voiced alarm at the unrest amid fears that the Muslim Brotherhood, perceived as anti-Israel and anti-Semitic, could take control of Egypt.

Reports on Egyptian state television today seem to be stressing that stability is returning to the country.

AP says it is possible that the regime thinks a resolution to the crisis can be reached without the immediate removal of Mubarak.

The comments by prime pinister Ahmed Shafiq on state TV suggest the government may calculate it can ride out protests and reach a deal with its opponents without Mubarak's ouster.

Mustafa Khalili has just filed an update on the situation in Tahrir Square where soldiers appear to be taking a more aggresive stance towards the protesters.

The Egyptian army's attitude to the protests in Tahrir seems to have hardened somewhat today; this morning military cranes were sent in to remove some of the burnt out vehicles demonstrators had been using as barricades at the front line of their battle with pro-Mubarak supporters. However they were thwarted by dozens of protesters who lay down in front of the vehicles.

In response the army deployed four rows of troops and four tanks to create a 50 metre buffer zone between the frontline and the main body of protesters, although those in Tahrir are still able to travel the edge of no man's land and maintain their barricades at the opening of Abdel Munim Riyad square.

Many fear that the army are attempting to strip the protesters of the defences they have painstakingly constructed over the past week to protect themselves from hostile attacks. "If the army now withdraw at any point we will become sitting targets and suffer a lot of casualties," said Amr Radwan.

By 3pm this afternoon an army general flanked by a dozen soldiers had made their way to a clinic on the front line in what appeared to be an attempt by the military to shut the clinic down. He was quickly surrounded by a gaggle of doctors, journalists and protesters questioning his decision.


Julian Borger

Here's Julian Borger's report on US secretary of state Hillary Clinton's comments at the security conference in Munich. Clinton signalled US backing for vice-president Omar Suleiman and stressed the need for an orderly transition. Here's a video of her speech.

The Press Association is reporting how Britons desperate to flee Egypt are making last-ditch efforts to get seats on a government-chartered flight out of the country:

More than 150 passengers are expected to be on the plane, which leaves Cairo this afternoon.
It is the second government-chartered flight out of the country in the last few days and is expected to touch down at Gatwick airport this evening.
The Foreign Office would not confirm the number of people expected to be onboard as details were still being finalised.
A spokeswoman said: "We are still taking expressions of interest from British nationals in Cairo for today's flight and the number of passengers has not been finalised."

Mustafa Khalili in Cairo has called in to report that the Egyptian army is moving its tanks beyond the barricades in Tahrir Square and appear to be trying to scare the protesters into going home. He also says soldiers are trying to shut down one of the first aid stations inside the square.

Blogger and journalist Wael Abbas has posted a message on Twitter saying that all the people dragged out of a legal aid centre in central Cairo and detained by the military police have now been released.

Novelist Ahdaf Soueif said eight to 12 people were dragged out of No 1 Souq el-Tawfikiyyah St and bundled into a bus while a military police vehicle waited nearby. The building houses offices of the Hisham Mubarak Legal Aid Centre, the Centre for Social and Economic Rights and the 6th April Youth.

Here's the latest from AP on the meeting between opposition leaders with the prime minister over ways to ease Mubarak out of office.

A self-declared group of Egypt's elite called the "group of wise men" has circulated ideas to try to break that deadlock. Among them is a proposal that Mubarak "deputise" his vice-president Omar Suleiman with his powers and, for the time being at least, step down in everything but name.
The "wise men," who are separate from the protesters on the ground, have met twice in recent days with Suleiman and the prime minister, said Amr el-Shobaki, a member of the group. Their proposals also call for the dissolving of the parliament monopolised by the ruling party and the end of emergency laws that give security forces near-unlimited powers.
The protesters are looking into the proposal floated by the "wise men," said [Abdel-Rahman] Youssef, who is part of the youth movement connected to Nobel peace laureate and prominent reform advocate Mohamed ElBaradei.
"It could be a way out of the crisis," Youssef said. "But the problem is in the president … he is not getting it that he has become a burden on everybody, psychologically, civicly and militarily."
Israa Abdel-Fattah, a member of the April 6 group, another of the youth movements driving the demonstrations, said there is support for the wise men's proposal among protesters.
Youssef underlined that the 12-day-old protests will continue in Tahrir Square until Mubarak goes in an acceptable way.
"There is no force that can get the youth out of the square. Every means was used. Flexibility, violence, live ammunition, and even thugs, and the protesters are still steadfast," he said.


Jack Shenker

Here's Jack Shenker's latest piece on the political negotiations regarding a transition of power which have now started between the government and opposition figures amid the ongoing mass protests.

Here's a roundup of the stories on the Egyptian protests in today's Guardian.

The front-page story is an account of yesterday's "day of departure" - the largest protest yet against Mubarak's regime. Jack Shenker and Mustafa Khalili write that the huge peaceful gathering marked a contrast to the violence and anarchy of previous days as people flooded into Tahrir Square "to show the world something different".

Barack Obama has dropped heavy hints that Mubarak should go, although he stopped short of unambiguously calling for him to stand down.

Peter Beaumont writes about the harassment he, Jack Shenker and other journalists have dealt with in recent days. This has ranged from being detained by soldiers who ordered them to kneel facing a wall with their hands behind their heads to the suspicion aroused by a pack of Strepsils.

Egyptian novelist Ahdaf Soueif has a diary of the past week's protests, which she says has seen hope emerge amid the violence and deaths.

Mubarak's family fortune could be as much as $70bn (£43.5bn), with much of his wealth in British and Swiss banks or tied up in real estate in London, New York, Los Angeles and the Red Sea coast.

The paper's leader column contends that while the outside world is right to be anxious about the risk of Islamic extremism in Egypt, it should not be too worried by the Muslim Brotherhood as the organisation is now more politically conservative than a fundamentalist group.

Protest leaders say they have met Egypt's prime minister to discuss ways to ease Mubarak out of office so negotiations can begin on the nation's future, AP reports.

Abdel-Rahman Youssef, a youth activist, told the news agency that he and other protest leaders met prime minister Ahmed Shafiq late yesterday. He said the meeting only concerned how to bring about Mubarak's departure.

Under one proposal, Mubarak would become deputy to the current vice-president, Omar Suleiman, and step down "in some way, either in a real departure or a political one," Youssef said.

Fox News has reported there was an assassination attempt on Egypt's vice-president Omar Suleiman late yesterday, although this has not been confirmed by other sources.

The news network reported two of Suleiman's bodyguards were killed in the failed assassination. However, a senior security source has denied the report, according to Reuters.

Jack Shenker has sent through a list of all the known prominent activists and human rights defenders arrested in Egypt in the past few days. This list, which is likely to be incomplete as information on arrests is still dripping through, lists the activists by the human rights organisation they are associated with.

Hisham Mubarak Legal Centre and the Centre for Economic and Social Rights
Ahmad Seif el-Islam abd el-Fattah
Ahmad Taher
El-Sayyed el-Fekki
Fatma Abed
Kamal Samir
Mona el-Masri
Muhamma Hamdi Mahmoud
Muhsin Bashir
Mustafa el-Hasan
Nadia
Nadine Abu-Shadi
Shahdan
Tamer Hagina

Amnesty International
Mona el-Kakhi
Saeed Haddadi

Human Rights Watch
Daniel Willams

Youth Activists
Ahmad Douma
Amre Ezz
Amre Salah
Michael Nabil
Mustafa Shawqi
Naser And el-Hamid
Shadi el-Ghazali Harb
Wael Ghoneim
Yaser Hawwari

The political party led by Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, has expressed solidarity with the Egyptian people in securing a peaceful transition of power for their country.

The Islamic Dawa party stopped short of calling on Mubarak to step down but it praised Egyptians for demanding their right to choose their leadership.

The statement also urged Egyptians to reject violence or chaos and praised the Egyptian army for balancing security with respecting protesters' rights.

The statement from the Dawa party raises the stark contrast between the push for regime change in Egypt and the 2003 invasion of Iraq which, according to Iraq Body Count, has claimed more than 150,000 lives.

The US-led invasion of Iraq dismantled the state apparatus, including the army, leaving a power vacuum that led to violent disputes among different religious and political factions and the growth of Islamic extremism. The leaders of the grassroots uprising in Egypt clearly wish to avoid such chaos and it is worth noting that their shared aims include involving the army in a transition of power.

Iraqi clerics and protesters have also warned leaders in Baghdad to heed the unrest in Egypt and Tunisia or risk facing it at home.


Hillary Clinton

The US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, has urged Middle Eastern leaders to embrace democratic reforms in response to growing unrest in the region.

Despite the risk of short-term instability in countries like Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen, Clinton said change was a "strategic necessity" that will make Arab nations stronger and their people more prosperous and less susceptible to extremist ideologies.

Speaking at the international security conference in Munich, Clinton said leaders who deny their people freedom and opportunity open the door to instability.

The Guardian's Julian Borger has sent through more on Clinton's speech. She told the security conference:

There are forces at work in any society, particularly one that is facing these kind of challenges, that will try to derail or overtake the process to pursue their own agenda, which is why I think it's important to follow the transition process announced by the Egyptian government, actually headed by now vice-president Omar Suleiman (…) and that it be a transparent, inclusive process that sets forth concrete steps that people who are engaged in it and looking at it can believe is moving toward an outcome that lead to the orderly establishment of elections scheduled for September.

Associated Press has an analysis piece on the Egyptian army's role in the political unrest.

It states that ultimately only the army can tell Mubarak to quit, but also notes that the generals face a dilemma in intervening in the crisis:

The army is clearly torn. If it asks Mubarak to spare the country more violence and step down, it would throw the door wide open to the possibility of the first civilian president, ending the hold it has had on power since a 1952 coup overthrew Egypt's monarchy. Every president since has come from the military.

But dislodging protesters by force from Cairo's central Tahrir Square, epicentre of the demonstrations, would portray the military in the same light as the widely hated police, risking a popular backlash that could taint its carefully guarded reputation as protector of the people.


Live blog: David Cameron

British prime minister David Cameron has added his voice to the other world leaders calling for a swift transition of power in Egypt.

Speaking at the security conference in Europe, Cameron said:

"There is no stability in Egypt. We need change, reform and transition to get stability. The longer that is put off, the more likely we are to get an Egypt that we wouldn't welcome."
BQ

The immediate removal of Mubarak from office will not be sufficient to stop the mass protests in Egypt, Jack Shenker writes in the Guardian. In a piece filed late last night, Shenker notes that the coalition of protesters have drawn up a common list of radical demands.

These include:

The resignation of the entire ruling party, including the new vice-president Omar Suleiman, whom the Obama administration believes is best placed to oversee a transition of power.
A broad-based transitional government appointed by a 14-strong committee, made up of senior judges, youth leaders and members of the military.
The election of a founding council of 40 public intellectuals and constitutional experts, who will draw up a new constitution under the supervision of the transitional government, then put it to the people in a referendum. Fresh elections would then be held at a local and national level.
The end of the country's emergency law.
The dismantling of the state security apparatus.
The trial of key regime leaders, including Mubarak.

With the political crisis estimated to have cost Egypt $3.1bn (£1.9bn), Mubarak today held talks with his economic team.

The state MENA news agency said the meeting, which involved the oil minister, the finance minister, the governor of the central bank and other officials, took place this morning in the presidential palace in Heliopolis, a Cairo suburb miles away from the protests in the city centre.

More world leaders have joined the US president in putting pressure on Mubarak for an orderly transition of power.

The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, backed the pro-democracy demonstrators, saying the rest of the world would be remiss "if we were not siding with these people".

Speaking at a security conference in Munich, she added: "There will be a change in Egypt … but it needs to be change in such a way that it is peaceful and orderly."

However, Merkel added that early elections would probably be unhelpful.

"Early elections at the beginning of the democratisation process is probably the wrong approach," she said.

At the same conference, the United Nations secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, said the turmoil in Egypt, Tunisia and other Arab countries demonstrated the risk of insecurity caused by a "deficit of democracy".

He said democracy created peace and security but "where it is absent there is chaos and uncertainty. We see this of course … most recently in Tunisia, Egypt and other countries in the Middle East."

The causes of this instability include "human insecurity, poverty, diminished or disappointed expectations, lack of good governance, corruption, ineffective governance of public institutions and deficits of democracy", the UN chief added.

Egyptian state television has reported that saboteurs blew up a gas pipeline in north Sinai.

It quoted an official as saying that the "situation is very dangerous and explosions were continuing from one spot to another" along the pipeline, according to Reuters.

"It is a big terrorist operation", a state TV reporter said.

There were no injuries and the blaze was quickly brought under control after the gas flow was shut off, according to the Associated Press.

The governor of the region, Abdel Wahab Mabrouk, said he suspected "sabotage".

Security sources told Reuters that the Egyptian army closed the main source of gas supplying the Jordanian branch of the pipeline, blaming the attack on "foreign elements".

Israel Radio said the Egypt-Israel pipeline was not damaged, but the supply has been stopped as a precaution.

Jack Shenker said it is thought that the explosion is linked to the ongoing dispute between Mubark's government and the Sinai Bedouins, rather than being directly related to the current protests against the regime.

Good morning this is David Batty with the Guardian's live coverage of the unrest in Egypt. It is the twelfth day since mass protests began against the regime of President Hosni Mubarak and thousands of people spent the night in Tahrir Square in central Cairo, after another huge rally demanding his resignation. Jack Shenker and Mustafa Khalili are in Cairo for the Guardian and will be filing reports throughout the day.

We'll also be bringing you a roundup of UK and international news coverage of the protests. In the meantime, here is a roundup of the latest developments:

Thousands of people spent the night in Tahrir Square following another huge rally against Mubarak.

The US has raised the pressure on Mubarak, with President Barack Obama urging him to begin an "orderly transition" of power. US officials say a meeting between Egypt's leaders and the opposition could be held in the next few days, perhaps even this weekend.

Egypt's finance minister, Samir Radwa, says talks are planned between the vice-president and opposition leaders. The outlawed Muslim Brotherhood is not expected to take part.

Reuters reports that there has been a blast near Egypt's gas pipeline with Israel in north Sinai. Jack Shenker will have more details on this shortly.

Somewhat contrary to Jack Shenker's earlier article about the consensus reached by Egyptian opposition groups over what should happen to bring about a transition of power, Reuters reports that they have yet to agree on a common position.

The proposal being promoted by a group of Egyptians calling itself the "The Council of Wise Men" involves Suleiman assuming presidential powers for an interim period pending elections.
But some opposition figures argue that would mean the next presidential election would be held under the same unfair conditions as in previous years. They want to first form a new parliament to change the constitution to pave the way for a presidential vote that is democratic.
The "Wise Men" proposal is based on article 139 of the constitution that would allow Mubarak to hand his powers to his deputy while staying on as figurehead.
"Under debate now is article 139 which transfers the president's executive powers to Omar Suleiman and Mubarak remains as a figurehead until September," Diaa Rashwan, an expert at the al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies and one of the "Wise Men", told Reuters.
Handing power to Suleiman offers a potential compromise between protesters' demands for Mubarak to leave office immediately and his stated decision to stay on until the end of his term in September.
Rashwan said all opposition factions and forces, including the influential Muslim Brotherhood, were invited to Saturday's talks. He said some groups have expressed reservations about the president staying on even in a symbolic role.
"Consultations are continuing to find an end to this crisis," he added.
The main opposition groups comprise the Brotherhood, the National Coalition for Change led by Nobel peace laureate and former IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei, the Kefaya movement and youth represented by the April Sixth Movement, the liberal Wafd party and the leftist Tagammu party.
Even if they all agree on the proposal, article 82 of the constitution could present a legal complication. It says that while the president is able to delegate powers to a deputy, that person is not allowed to request constitutional amendments or dissolve the parliament or shura councils.
If that article holds, it would be impossible for a Suleiman-led administration to carry out the constitutional reforms promised by Mubarak in response to the protests.
Without constitutional changes, a presidential election in September would have to run under the same rules that opposition parties say stack all the cards in favour of Mubarak's ruling party and effectively rule out an effective rival bid.
The Brotherhood said discussions were still taking place a among the factions to seek a common ground.
"Until now there is no agreement among the various parties and factions on one scenario," Mohammed Morsy, a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood, told Reuters.
He said his Islamist group was proposing that the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court takes over power as stipulated by the constitution since parliament has been effectively suspended since the unrest erupted last month.
"The head of the supreme court will then call for parliamentary elections and the elected parliament can amend the necessary clauses in the constitution in order to conduct fair and honest presidential elections," Morsy said.
"Most of the clauses in the constitution concern the president ... The president has to go. We are trying to find a constitutional way out if the president is no longer in his post."

There has been an explosion at a church in Rafah in the Gaza Strip, near the border with Egypt, Reuters reports.

The cause and the scale of the blast are not yet clear, according to the news agency.

Witnesses said they saw several armed men around the church but it was not clear whether they were involved. Smoke rose from the Mari Gerges church, which was empty of people, they added.

The Egyptian government blamed the Gaza-based Army of Islam for a New Year's Day church bombing in Alexandria that killed 23 people. The group denies the charge.

Reuters has a report on the impact of the political unrest in Egypt on the stalled peace negotions between Israel and the Palestinians.

The quartet of Middle East peace negotiators said today they will give high priority to the impact of Egypt crisis on the negotiations, but would not allow the situation to derail the peace talks.

In a draft statement due to be endorsed by the UN, the European Union, Russia and the US, the quartet said further delays in resuming talks would be "detrimental to prospects for regional peace and security".

Israel has voiced alarm at the unrest amid fears that the Muslim Brotherhood, perceived as anti-Israel and anti-Semitic, could take control of Egypt.

Reports on Egyptian state television today seem to be stressing that stability is returning to the country.

AP says it is possible that the regime thinks a resolution to the crisis can be reached without the immediate removal of Mubarak.

The comments by prime pinister Ahmed Shafiq on state TV suggest the government may calculate it can ride out protests and reach a deal with its opponents without Mubarak's ouster.

Mustafa Khalili has just filed an update on the situation in Tahrir Square where soldiers appear to be taking a more aggresive stance towards the protesters.

The Egyptian army's attitude to the protests in Tahrir seems to have hardened somewhat today; this morning military cranes were sent in to remove some of the burnt out vehicles demonstrators had been using as barricades at the front line of their battle with pro-Mubarak supporters. However they were thwarted by dozens of protesters who lay down in front of the vehicles.

In response the army deployed four rows of troops and four tanks to create a 50 metre buffer zone between the frontline and the main body of protesters, although those in Tahrir are still able to travel the edge of no man's land and maintain their barricades at the opening of Abdel Munim Riyad square.

Many fear that the army are attempting to strip the protesters of the defences they have painstakingly constructed over the past week to protect themselves from hostile attacks. "If the army now withdraw at any point we will become sitting targets and suffer a lot of casualties," said Amr Radwan.

By 3pm this afternoon an army general flanked by a dozen soldiers had made their way to a clinic on the front line in what appeared to be an attempt by the military to shut the clinic down. He was quickly surrounded by a gaggle of doctors, journalists and protesters questioning his decision.


Julian Borger

Here's Julian Borger's report on US secretary of state Hillary Clinton's comments at the security conference in Munich. Clinton signalled US backing for vice-president Omar Suleiman and stressed the need for an orderly transition. Here's a video of her speech.

The Press Association is reporting how Britons desperate to flee Egypt are making last-ditch efforts to get seats on a government-chartered flight out of the country:

More than 150 passengers are expected to be on the plane, which leaves Cairo this afternoon.
It is the second government-chartered flight out of the country in the last few days and is expected to touch down at Gatwick airport this evening.
The Foreign Office would not confirm the number of people expected to be onboard as details were still being finalised.
A spokeswoman said: "We are still taking expressions of interest from British nationals in Cairo for today's flight and the number of passengers has not been finalised."

Mustafa Khalili in Cairo has called in to report that the Egyptian army is moving its tanks beyond the barricades in Tahrir Square and appear to be trying to scare the protesters into going home. He also says soldiers are trying to shut down one of the first aid stations inside the square.

Blogger and journalist Wael Abbas has posted a message on Twitter saying that all the people dragged out of a legal aid centre in central Cairo and detained by the military police have now been released.

Novelist Ahdaf Soueif said eight to 12 people were dragged out of No 1 Souq el-Tawfikiyyah St and bundled into a bus while a military police vehicle waited nearby. The building houses offices of the Hisham Mubarak Legal Aid Centre, the Centre for Social and Economic Rights and the 6th April Youth.

Here's the latest from AP on the meeting between opposition leaders with the prime minister over ways to ease Mubarak out of office.

A self-declared group of Egypt's elite called the "group of wise men" has circulated ideas to try to break that deadlock. Among them is a proposal that Mubarak "deputise" his vice-president Omar Suleiman with his powers and, for the time being at least, step down in everything but name.
The "wise men," who are separate from the protesters on the ground, have met twice in recent days with Suleiman and the prime minister, said Amr el-Shobaki, a member of the group. Their proposals also call for the dissolving of the parliament monopolised by the ruling party and the end of emergency laws that give security forces near-unlimited powers.
The protesters are looking into the proposal floated by the "wise men," said [Abdel-Rahman] Youssef, who is part of the youth movement connected to Nobel peace laureate and prominent reform advocate Mohamed ElBaradei.
"It could be a way out of the crisis," Youssef said. "But the problem is in the president … he is not getting it that he has become a burden on everybody, psychologically, civicly and militarily."
Israa Abdel-Fattah, a member of the April 6 group, another of the youth movements driving the demonstrations, said there is support for the wise men's proposal among protesters.
Youssef underlined that the 12-day-old protests will continue in Tahrir Square until Mubarak goes in an acceptable way.
"There is no force that can get the youth out of the square. Every means was used. Flexibility, violence, live ammunition, and even thugs, and the protesters are still steadfast," he said.


Jack Shenker

Here's Jack Shenker's latest piece on the political negotiations regarding a transition of power which have now started between the government and opposition figures amid the ongoing mass protests.

Here's a roundup of the stories on the Egyptian protests in today's Guardian.

The front-page story is an account of yesterday's "day of departure" - the largest protest yet against Mubarak's regime. Jack Shenker and Mustafa Khalili write that the huge peaceful gathering marked a contrast to the violence and anarchy of previous days as people flooded into Tahrir Square "to show the world something different".

Barack Obama has dropped heavy hints that Mubarak should go, although he stopped short of unambiguously calling for him to stand down.

Peter Beaumont writes about the harassment he, Jack Shenker and other journalists have dealt with in recent days. This has ranged from being detained by soldiers who ordered them to kneel facing a wall with their hands behind their heads to the suspicion aroused by a pack of Strepsils.

Egyptian novelist Ahdaf Soueif has a diary of the past week's protests, which she says has seen hope emerge amid the violence and deaths.

Mubarak's family fortune could be as much as $70bn (£43.5bn), with much of his wealth in British and Swiss banks or tied up in real estate in London, New York, Los Angeles and the Red Sea coast.

The paper's leader column contends that while the outside world is right to be anxious about the risk of Islamic extremism in Egypt, it should not be too worried by the Muslim Brotherhood as the organisation is now more politically conservative than a fundamentalist group.

Protest leaders say they have met Egypt's prime minister to discuss ways to ease Mubarak out of office so negotiations can begin on the nation's future, AP reports.

Abdel-Rahman Youssef, a youth activist, told the news agency that he and other protest leaders met prime minister Ahmed Shafiq late yesterday. He said the meeting only concerned how to bring about Mubarak's departure.

Under one proposal, Mubarak would become deputy to the current vice-president, Omar Suleiman, and step down "in some way, either in a real departure or a political one," Youssef said.

Fox News has reported there was an assassination attempt on Egypt's vice-president Omar Suleiman late yesterday, although this has not been confirmed by other sources.

The news network reported two of Suleiman's bodyguards were killed in the failed assassination. However, a senior security source has denied the report, according to Reuters.

Jack Shenker has sent through a list of all the known prominent activists and human rights defenders arrested in Egypt in the past few days. This list, which is likely to be incomplete as information on arrests is still dripping through, lists the activists by the human rights organisation they are associated with.

Hisham Mubarak Legal Centre and the Centre for Economic and Social Rights
Ahmad Seif el-Islam abd el-Fattah
Ahmad Taher
El-Sayyed el-Fekki
Fatma Abed
Kamal Samir
Mona el-Masri
Muhamma Hamdi Mahmoud
Muhsin Bashir
Mustafa el-Hasan
Nadia
Nadine Abu-Shadi
Shahdan
Tamer Hagina

Amnesty International
Mona el-Kakhi
Saeed Haddadi

Human Rights Watch
Daniel Willams

Youth Activists
Ahmad Douma
Amre Ezz
Amre Salah
Michael Nabil
Mustafa Shawqi
Naser And el-Hamid
Shadi el-Ghazali Harb
Wael Ghoneim
Yaser Hawwari

The political party led by Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, has expressed solidarity with the Egyptian people in securing a peaceful transition of power for their country.

The Islamic Dawa party stopped short of calling on Mubarak to step down but it praised Egyptians for demanding their right to choose their leadership.

The statement also urged Egyptians to reject violence or chaos and praised the Egyptian army for balancing security with respecting protesters' rights.

The statement from the Dawa party raises the stark contrast between the push for regime change in Egypt and the 2003 invasion of Iraq which, according to Iraq Body Count, has claimed more than 150,000 lives.

The US-led invasion of Iraq dismantled the state apparatus, including the army, leaving a power vacuum that led to violent disputes among different religious and political factions and the growth of Islamic extremism. The leaders of the grassroots uprising in Egypt clearly wish to avoid such chaos and it is worth noting that their shared aims include involving the army in a transition of power.

Iraqi clerics and protesters have also warned leaders in Baghdad to heed the unrest in Egypt and Tunisia or risk facing it at home.


Hillary Clinton

The US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, has urged Middle Eastern leaders to embrace democratic reforms in response to growing unrest in the region.

Despite the risk of short-term instability in countries like Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen, Clinton said change was a "strategic necessity" that will make Arab nations stronger and their people more prosperous and less susceptible to extremist ideologies.

Speaking at the international security conference in Munich, Clinton said leaders who deny their people freedom and opportunity open the door to instability.

The Guardian's Julian Borger has sent through more on Clinton's speech. She told the security conference:

There are forces at work in any society, particularly one that is facing these kind of challenges, that will try to derail or overtake the process to pursue their own agenda, which is why I think it's important to follow the transition process announced by the Egyptian government, actually headed by now vice-president Omar Suleiman (…) and that it be a transparent, inclusive process that sets forth concrete steps that people who are engaged in it and looking at it can believe is moving toward an outcome that lead to the orderly establishment of elections scheduled for September.

Associated Press has an analysis piece on the Egyptian army's role in the political unrest.

It states that ultimately only the army can tell Mubarak to quit, but also notes that the generals face a dilemma in intervening in the crisis:

The army is clearly torn. If it asks Mubarak to spare the country more violence and step down, it would throw the door wide open to the possibility of the first civilian president, ending the hold it has had on power since a 1952 coup overthrew Egypt's monarchy. Every president since has come from the military.

But dislodging protesters by force from Cairo's central Tahrir Square, epicentre of the demonstrations, would portray the military in the same light as the widely hated police, risking a popular backlash that could taint its carefully guarded reputation as protector of the people.


Live blog: David Cameron

British prime minister David Cameron has added his voice to the other world leaders calling for a swift transition of power in Egypt.

Speaking at the security conference in Europe, Cameron said:

"There is no stability in Egypt. We need change, reform and transition to get stability. The longer that is put off, the more likely we are to get an Egypt that we wouldn't welcome."
BQ

The immediate removal of Mubarak from office will not be sufficient to stop the mass protests in Egypt, Jack Shenker writes in the Guardian. In a piece filed late last night, Shenker notes that the coalition of protesters have drawn up a common list of radical demands.

These include:

The resignation of the entire ruling party, including the new vice-president Omar Suleiman, whom the Obama administration believes is best placed to oversee a transition of power.
A broad-based transitional government appointed by a 14-strong committee, made up of senior judges, youth leaders and members of the military.
The election of a founding council of 40 public intellectuals and constitutional experts, who will draw up a new constitution under the supervision of the transitional government, then put it to the people in a referendum. Fresh elections would then be held at a local and national level.
The end of the country's emergency law.
The dismantling of the state security apparatus.
The trial of key regime leaders, including Mubarak.

With the political crisis estimated to have cost Egypt $3.1bn (£1.9bn), Mubarak today held talks with his economic team.

The state MENA news agency said the meeting, which involved the oil minister, the finance minister, the governor of the central bank and other officials, took place this morning in the presidential palace in Heliopolis, a Cairo suburb miles away from the protests in the city centre.

More world leaders have joined the US president in putting pressure on Mubarak for an orderly transition of power.

The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, backed the pro-democracy demonstrators, saying the rest of the world would be remiss "if we were not siding with these people".

Speaking at a security conference in Munich, she added: "There will be a change in Egypt … but it needs to be change in such a way that it is peaceful and orderly."

However, Merkel added that early elections would probably be unhelpful.

"Early elections at the beginning of the democratisation process is probably the wrong approach," she said.

At the same conference, the United Nations secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, said the turmoil in Egypt, Tunisia and other Arab countries demonstrated the risk of insecurity caused by a "deficit of democracy".

He said democracy created peace and security but "where it is absent there is chaos and uncertainty. We see this of course … most recently in Tunisia, Egypt and other countries in the Middle East."

The causes of this instability include "human insecurity, poverty, diminished or disappointed expectations, lack of good governance, corruption, ineffective governance of public institutions and deficits of democracy", the UN chief added.

Egyptian state television has reported that saboteurs blew up a gas pipeline in north Sinai.

It quoted an official as saying that the "situation is very dangerous and explosions were continuing from one spot to another" along the pipeline, according to Reuters.

"It is a big terrorist operation", a state TV reporter said.

There were no injuries and the blaze was quickly brought under control after the gas flow was shut off, according to the Associated Press.

The governor of the region, Abdel Wahab Mabrouk, said he suspected "sabotage".

Security sources told Reuters that the Egyptian army closed the main source of gas supplying the Jordanian branch of the pipeline, blaming the attack on "foreign elements".

Israel Radio said the Egypt-Israel pipeline was not damaged, but the supply has been stopped as a precaution.

Jack Shenker said it is thought that the explosion is linked to the ongoing dispute between Mubark's government and the Sinai Bedouins, rather than being directly related to the current protests against the regime.

Good morning this is David Batty with the Guardian's live coverage of the unrest in Egypt. It is the twelfth day since mass protests began against the regime of President Hosni Mubarak and thousands of people spent the night in Tahrir Square in central Cairo, after another huge rally demanding his resignation. Jack Shenker and Mustafa Khalili are in Cairo for the Guardian and will be filing reports throughout the day.

We'll also be bringing you a roundup of UK and international news coverage of the protests. In the meantime, here is a roundup of the latest developments:

Thousands of people spent the night in Tahrir Square following another huge rally against Mubarak.

The US has raised the pressure on Mubarak, with President Barack Obama urging him to begin an "orderly transition" of power. US officials say a meeting between Egypt's leaders and the opposition could be held in the next few days, perhaps even this weekend.

Egypt's finance minister, Samir Radwa, says talks are planned between the vice-president and opposition leaders. The outlawed Muslim Brotherhood is not expected to take part.

Reuters reports that there has been a blast near Egypt's gas pipeline with Israel in north Sinai. Jack Shenker will have more details on this shortly.

Read more at www.guardian.co.uk
 

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