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Promises fail to stop protests

world Updated: Feb 08, 2011 00:41 IST
Amitava Sanyal
Amitava Sanyal
Hindustan Times
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As the Egyptian crisis entered its 14th day, the government promised constitutional reforms and announced some confidence building measures. But it failed to please the protestors camping at Tahrir Square and opposition parties demanding the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak.

After two days of negotiations with a panel of opposition leaders and specially set up ‘Committee of Wise Men’, vice-president Omar Suleiman announced on Monday that the constitution would be amended by an expert committee, the state of emergency that has existed for the three-decade rule of Mubarak would be repealed, and the media would be given greater freedom.

The scope of the constitutional reforms includes restricting the president’s options for re-election and allowing easier candidature for smaller parties and independents.

The government on Monday also released from prison prominent blogger and so-called ‘Facebook revolution’ Wael Ghonim. He’s Google’s head of marketing (Middle East and North Africa).

Meanwhile Muslim Brotherhood said it was not sure the government would carry out all reforms in the proper spirit.

The crowds at Tahrir, possibly as large by late afternoon as on Sunday, conducted a mock funeral for a journalist who had been killed in the protests, while Alexandria protesters increased in number on Monday after some professional unions joined in.

Some roads near the heart of the city remained busy during non-curfew hours. Also some shops opened but most large businesses remained shut.

The Crédit Agricole Bank has estimated that the Egyptian economy is incurring a daily loss of $310 million.