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Despite Talks in Egypt, Protests Continue

  • Luis Ramirez

Anti-government demonstrators gather in Tahrir Square, the center of anti-Mubarak protests, in downtown Cairo, Egypt, February 7, 2011

Anti-government demonstrators gather in Tahrir Square, the center of anti-Mubarak protests, in downtown Cairo, Egypt, February 7, 2011

Talks between Egypt's opposition and the government of President Hosni Mubarak have failed to stop thousands from demonstrating and calling for his immediate removal.

The Egyptian capital appeared to be desperate to get back to a normal routine. Traffic was snarled during commute times, with drivers sometimes having to go around army tanks and burned out vehicles - reminders of violent demonstrations.

Banks opened for a second day, but there was still no trading on the stock exchange.

Just as some people want things to return to normal, the demonstrators want to ensure that pressure is sustained on Mr. Mubarak to go, and that their efforts do not fade away.

On day 14, they continued to stream into Tahrir Square.

The opposition, like the protesters, says it is not satisfied with the outcome of talks between opposition groups and Mr. Mubarak's government. Those groups include the Muslim Brotherhood, which has been banned for decades.

One of the key leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood group told VOA dialogue can continue only if the government responds to the opposition's demands for deep political reform.

Earlier, another group spokesman, Isaam Eryan, met with reporters. He said no sane person or politician can reject dialogue, but he said this dialogue must be serious, representative and productive.

The Muslim Brotherhood is one the main backers of the demonstrations.

Pressure during the past 14 days has forced Mr. Mubarak to make concessions. He has named a Vice President, announced he will not seek reelection this year, and his party has seen the resignation of its top leaders.

But Egypt's opposition has failed to come up with a united front, and it is divided on how the transition of power should occur.

Some, including the protesters at Tahrir Square, want Mr. Mubarak to depart immediately, and some want him to leave the country or be put on trial. Others want him to stay and say they are grateful for the political stability his government has maintained over three decades, as well as for government entitlements that some have received during his tenure.

A third group includes many of those in the Egyptian capital who went back to work this week hoping for democratic change, but who say they want it in an orderly way that will soon return this country to normal.

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