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Egyptian Government Offers Reforms

Egyptian anti-Mubarak protesters shout slogans as they march in Alexandria, Egypt, Feb 8, 2011
Egyptian anti-Mubarak protesters shout slogans as they march in Alexandria, Egypt, Feb 8, 2011

The government of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has announced new reforms as thousands of protesters camp out at Cairo's Tahrir Square, demanding Mr. Mubarak's ouster. The protests are in their third week.

It was the latest effort by Mr. Mubarak's government to give the protesters an incentive to go home, as the demonstrators call for more people to join them.

Newly appointed Vice President Omar Suleiman went on state television Tuesday and said Mr. Mubarak wants a peaceful transfer of power. He said the Egyptian leader ordered a committee to review changes to Egypt's constitution and also to investigate violence during last week's massive demonstrations.

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The Egyptian vice president offered reassurances to the demonstrators, many of whom are young people, saying Mr. Mubarak believes young people deserve to be appreciated and has given instructions that protesters should not be prosecuted nor have restrictions imposed on them or their freedom to express themselves.

Mr. Suleiman's words did not appear to move the demonstrators, who staged their 15th day of protests on Tahrir Square, where many are camping out in tents. Many say they will stay there until Mr. Mubarak leaves.

As Mr. Suleiman was speaking, a steady stream of protesters made their way past army checkpoints into the square.

Some analysts say the government has succeeded, at least for now, to buy itself time by making incremental concessions. On Monday, it announced raises in pay and pensions for public sector employees.

The Mubarak leadership wants normalcy to return to the country after two weeks of the often-violent demonstrations.

This man spoke as he was leaving Tahrir Square. He told VOA he is tiring of the protests.

He said that certainly, he wishes life would return to normal and he says he does not know when the unrest will end. He said it looks like this situation will continue for a long time.

President Mubarak has already said he will leave, by not seeking reelection in September, and some in the opposition agree with him that the transition should be gradual and peaceful.

The protesters say they will not give up their struggle for Mr. Mubarak to leave sooner. They are calling for a massive turnout at the end of the week.

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