Mubarak son, leaders quit party

Cairo, Feb. 5: The Egypt PM, Mr Ahmed Shafiq, said on Saturday that stability was returning to the country, appearing confident that a deal on future reforms can be reached with the multiple Opposition movements to defuse protests without the 82-year-old Mubarak necessarily leaving power immediately. Leaders of Egypt’s unprecedented wave of anti-government protests have held talks with the Prime Minister over ways to ease the President, Mr Hosni Mubarak, out of office.

State TV said the top leadership body of Egypt’s ruling party, including the President’s son, Mr Gamal Mubarak, and party secretary-general, Mr Safwat el-Sharif, resigned on Saturday in a new gesture apparently aimed at convincing anti-government protesters that the regime is serious about reform. Protesters have shrugged off other 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 the President, Mr Mubarak.

State TV said the ruling party’s six-member Steering Committee of the General Secretariat stepped down and was replaced. The council was the party’s highest decision-making body. Mr El-Sharif was replaced by Mr Hossam Badrawi, a party figure who had been sidelined within its ranks in recent years because of his sharp criticisms of some policies. The new appointments to the body were largely young figures, one of the replacements, Mr Mohammed Kamal, told AP. “It’s a good change. It reflects the mood of change that is sweeping the country,” he said.

The announcement was greeted with scorn by some of the tens of thousands of protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Mr Wael Khalil, a 45-year-old activist, said it would “reinforce their (protesters’) resolve and increase their confidence because it shows that they are winning, and the regime is retreating inch by inch.”

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