Sunday, January 30, 2011

Egypt: Lawlessness Erupts On Egypt's Streets As Mubarak Clings To Power

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Reprinted with the permission of
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Lawlessness Erupts On Egypt's Streets As Mubarak Clings To Power

January 30, 2011
- Tensions remained high in the Egyptian capital on January 29 as protesters confronted tanks and again called on President Hosni Mubarak to resign.

Burnt-out cars and debris from looted stores were scattered in the streets of Cairo as unprecedented antigovernment riots entered their sixth day.

Security officials in Egypt say thousands of prisoners escaped from the Wadi Natrun prison facility overnight after riot police apparently were ordered into their barracks.

There also were reports of widespread looting overnight in Alexandria, Suez, and other Egyptian cities.

Army troops were deployed during the weekend to guard strategic government buildings, but failed to prevent looters overnight from breaking into the National Museum in Cairo -- damaging two mummies from the time of the pharaohs and stealing priceless antiquities.

Neighborhood militias have been set up in Cairo residential areas by vigilantes trying to protect properties from looters, as Egyptians were caught between hope for democratic reform and fear of chaos.

Thousands of protesters remained on the streets early today in defiance of an overnight curfew. President Hosni Mubarak on January 29 appointed his intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, as vice president, while Mubarak's aides promised there would be further reforms in the next three days.

The appointment marks the first time Mubarak has ever named a vice president in his decades of rule.

Protesters say Suleiman's appointment is not the reform they want and continue to insist that Mubarak step down along with other members of his regime.

Banks, the stock market and schools have been closed in Egypt today for what Egyptian authorities call "a precaution."

More than 100 people have been reported killed more than 1,000 injured in the past five days of rioting and clashes between protesters.

Amid reports of widespread looting and an absence of police forces, reports say local residents have begun banding together in vigilante groups to protect properties.

Protesters also remained on the streets through the night of January 29 in defiance of a night-time curfew decreed by Mubarak's authorities.

Calls For Calm

U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said it was not enough for Mubarak simply to "reshuffle" the government lineup. Crowley repeated U.S. calls for moves toward democratic reform.

The leaders of Britain, Germany, and France have issued a joint statement calling on Mubarak's forces to "avoid at all costs the use of violence against unarmed civilians," and for demonstrators to exercise their rights peacefully.

The statement from British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy called on the Egyptian authorities to show full respect for the human rights and democratic freedoms of protesters.

compiled from agency reports