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Millions will march against Mubarak today

world Updated: Feb 01, 2011 01:45 IST
HT Correspondent

The battle of the Nile between people and pharaoh headed into a second week.

Egyptian protesters called for a "march of a million" on Tuesday to unseat the country's beleaguered president, Hosni Mubarak. An indefinite strike was announced and Mubarak given until Friday to surrender office.

The president responded by swearing in a new cabinet on Monday, a move widely derided on the street as too little, too late.

With Egypt's political crisis heading into its second week, share prices slid across the world. Reflecting the country's importance to oil transport and fears of unrest spreading to other Arab countries, oil prices rose sharply.

Brent crude was just short of $100-a-barrel on Monday. Even as tens of thousands of protesters continued to fill the streets of Egypt's cities, Mubarak appointed a new prime minister and dismissed the economic ministers responsible for the past several years of reforms.

But the main change was the removal of Haibi el-Adli, a widely unpopular interior minister, and the choice of ministers close to the military.

In Tahrir Square, the hub of a protest movement which has already claimed 125 lives, demonstrators dismissed the changes.

"They are wasting their time. The head of the regime, Mubarak, must be ousted. We want Mubarak out," said Mohamed el-Nahass, a 47-year-old railway worker.

Hassan, a construction worker, said: "The whole regime must come down. We do not want anyone from Mubarak's retinue in the new government, which the people will choose."

Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei has emerged as the leader of

the anti-regime protests but his standing is not unchallenged.

At least one opposition party, the Arab nationalist Karama Party has rejected ElBaradei as a transitional figure, saying he was trying to jump on the bandwagon of the popular uprising.

However, ElBaradei has been granted the mandate to negotiate with authorities by other members of the protest coalition including the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, various leftwing and secular liberal groups.

Tewfik Aclimandos, an Egypt expert at the College de France, said ElBaradei's strength and weakness comes from his lack of binding commitments. ElBaradei "does not have his own troops. This is simultaneously the source of his strength and his weakness. He is hostage of no one but he cannot turn things around by himself."