Mubarak Orders New VP Suleiman to Open Dialogue With Egypt Opposition

Suleiman says on state T.V. that dialogue will involve both constitutional and legislative reforms, a request voiced by anti-government protesters.

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Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman said on Monday that President Hosni Mubarak told him to start a dialogue with all the political parties as riots continue on the eve of their seventh day.

Suleiman added on state TV that the dialogue will involve both constitutional and legislative reforms, a request voiced by anti-government protesters.

People demonstrate in Cairo, Egypt, on Jan. 31, 2011. Credit: AP

After nearly a week of anti-government demonstrations and violent riots in Egypt, Mubarak announced Saturday that Omar Suleiman, the intelligence chief with military experience, would be appointed as the new vice president. This leaves him in prime position for the top job if Mubarak does not run for president again in September.

Suleiman is the first vice-president of Egypt to be appointed since Mubarak first took power almost thirty years ago. Mubarak himself occupied the position of vice-president under the former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, and took the reigns of power after Sadat was assassinated in 1981.

"The president has asked me today to immediately hold contacts with the political forces to start a dialogue about all raised issues that also involve constitutional and legislative
reforms in a form that will result in clear proposed amendments and a specific timetable for its implementation," Suleiman said in a televised address on Monday.

Suleiman's announcement comes after six days of unrest that have killed more than 100 people and left over 1,000 people injured. Protesters are refusing to stop demonstrating until Mubarak leaves the government. The army, meanwhile, has publicly stated that they will not use force on civilians and that they understand the legitimate demands of the protesters.

Protesters in Tahrir Square have dismissed Mubarak's appointment of military men as his vice president and prime minister.

His promises of economic reform to address public anger at rising prices, unemployment and the huge gap between rich and poor have failed to halt their broader calls for a political sweep out of Mubarak and his associates.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, right, listens as Omar Suleiman, swears the oath as Vice President of Egypt, Saturday Jan. 29. 2011.Credit: AP

Protesters have called for a general strike on Monday and what they bill as a "protest of the millions" march on Tuesday, to press their demands for democracy which could spell the end for the military establishment which has run post-colonial Egypt since the 1950s.

Suleiman's announcement comes just one day after the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest opposition group, announced that it is in talks with other anti-government figures to form a national unity government without President Hosni Mubarak, a group official told DPA on Sunday.

Although the Muslim Brotherhood is officially banned from running for elections for parliament, some movement members have presented candidacy for parliament as independents.

Gamal Nasser, a spokesman for the Brotherhood, told DPA that his group was in talks with Mohammed ElBaradei - the former UN nuclear watchdog chief - to form a national unity government without the National Democratic Party of Mubarak.



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