Sacking Egyptian Ministers Not Enough, U.S. State Department Says

State Department spokesperson P.J. Crowley tweets that Mubarak cabinet reshuffle must be followed by real reform.

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Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's sacking of his government's ministers is not enough to advance reforms in the country, the U.S. State Department said Saturday.

State Department spokesperson P.J. Crowley said Mubarak must follow through on his pledge to introduce real political, economic and social reforms. "The Egyptian government can't reshuffle the deck and then stand pat," Crowley said on his Twitter account. "President Mubarak's words pledging reform must be followed by action."

The White House, Washington DCCredit: Bloomberg

Facing mass protests over the last five days calling for him to step down, Mubarak announced he was sacking the government's ministers and would form a new government. On Saturday he appointed a deputy for the first time in his nearly 30-year rule and named a new prime minister. But he refused to resign.

President Barack Obama said in Washington Friday night following Mubarak's speech that the Egyptian leader must act on his promise of reforms. "He has a responsibility to give meaning to those words," Obama said of Mubarak, a close U.S. ally in the region.

Before Obama spoke, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs announced the administration might cut the $1.5 billion in annual foreign aid sent to Egypt, depending on Mubarak's response to the demonstrations.

Obama also repeated demands by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton for Egypt's government to restore access to the internet and social media sites, cut by the authorities in an apparent attempt to limit the flow of information about the protests demanding an end to Mubarak's rule.

But he said, "We've also been clear that there must be reform, political, social and economic reforms that meet the aspirations of the Egyptian people." He added that the demonstrators had a responsibility to express themselves peacefully. He continued, "Violence and destruction will not lead to the reforms they seek."

Egypt has also been one of the United States' closest allies in the region since President Anwar Sadat made peace with Israel in 1979 after talks at Camp David.

Mubarak kept that deal after Sadat's 1981 assassination and has been a close partner of every U.S. president since Jimmy Carter, helping Washington exert its will on issues that range from suppressing Islamist violence to counterbalancing the rise of Iran's anti-American Shiite theocracy.

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