News / Middle East

Egyptian President Mubarak Dismisses Cabinet Following Massive Protests

In this image made from video broadcast on Friday, Jan. 28, 2011, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak appears on television, in his first appearance on television since protests erupted demanding his ouster
In this image made from video broadcast on Friday, Jan. 28, 2011, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak appears on television, in his first appearance on television since protests erupted demanding his ouster

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Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has appeared on national television for the first time since protesters took to the streets demanding his ouster.  In a televised speech late Friday, Mr. Mubarak promised to implement political and economic reforms.

Key Players in Egypt's Crisis

  • President Hosni Mubarak: The 82-year-old has ruled Egypt for 30 years as leader of the National Democratic Party. With no named successor and in poor health, analysts say the president is grooming his son, Gamal, to succeed him. Egypt's longest-serving president came to power after the assassination of his predecessor, Anwar Sadat.
  • Mohamed ElBaradei: The Nobel Peace laureate and former Egyptian diplomat has gained international attention as a vocal critic of Mr. Mubarak and his government. Until recently he headed the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency, and he has lived outside Egypt for years. ElBaradei founded the nonpartisan movement National Association for Change, and has offered to lead a transitional administration in Egypt if Mr. Mubarak steps down.
  • Minister Omar Suleiman: The head of Egyptian intelligence and a close ally of President Mubarak, Suleiman is seen by some analysts as a possible successor to the president. He earned international respect for his role as a mediator in Middle East affairs and for curbing Islamic extremism.
  • Ayman Nour: The political dissident founded the Al Ghad or "tomorrow" party. Nour ran against Mr. Mubarak in the 2005 election and was later jailed on corruption charges. The government released him in 2009 under pressure from the United States and other members of the international community.
  • Muslim Brotherhood: The Islamic fundamentalist organization is outlawed in Egypt, but remains the largest opposition group. Its members previously held 20 percent of the seats in parliament, but lost them after a disputed election in late 2010. The group leads a peaceful political and social movement aimed at forming an Islamic state.

The 82-year-old Egyptian ruler ordered his Cabinet to step down and promised to appoint a new Cabinet Saturday.   He also said the days of protests this week were a plot to destabilize Egypt.

In Washington, President Barack Obama, in an address from the White House Friday evening, asked the Egyptian government to refrain from violence against peaceful protesters and restore Internet and communication services that have been cut off.

Mr. Obama said he spoke to Mr. Mubarak and asked him to take "concrete steps" to fulfill his promises of reform made to the Egyptian people.

Buildings continued to burn in in Cairo and tanks patrolled the streets, capping the most violent and chaotic day in Egypt since mass demonstrations began Tuesday.  

Tens of thousands of protesters defied the nighttime curfew and continued to demand Mr. Mubarak end his 30-year rule.

Medical officials say at least 13 people were killed in Friday's unrest in Suez.  There are reports that more than 100 people have been injured across the country.

Earlier in Washington, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs also said the U.S. would be reviewing its assistance program to Egypt, which tops $1 billion.

Protesters in Cairo surrounded some vehicles belonging to security forces, and at one point rocked an empty troop carrier back and forth before burning it. Demonstrators have also attempted to storm the state television building.

Large fires are visible at several spots in the city, including at the headquarters of the ruling National Democratic Party.  Witnesses have reported hearing gunfire in the streets.

Convoys of military vehicles carrying troops poured into Cairo about the time a dusk-to-dawn curfew began.  

Soldiers have been patrolling Suez, where police used tear gas, water cannons and clubs to push back demonstrators.  Military vehicles also moved into Alexandria.

Related video report of protests by Henry Ridgwell:

News reports said the national carrier Egypt Air suspended flights into Cairo.

Meanwhile, police briefly detained Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei at a mosque in suburban Cairo, Friday. The former U.N. atomic energy chief who returned to Egypt from Austria Thursday, has said he is willing to lead an opposition movement.

Internet service, a key tool for activists, was shut down across the country shortly after midnight.  Cell phone text messaging and data plans were also disabled. Telecom company Vodafone says the Egyptian government ordered all mobile telephone operators to suspend service in parts of the country.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

Slideshow of the Egyptian protests

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