- Life Style
The Egyptian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday expressed its rejection of European and American calls for the Egyptian government to immediately embark on a transition period.
Earlier, US and European leaders insisted that a smooth transition process, whereby President Hosni Mubarak would relinquish the presidency, should start now.
US President Barack Obama had reportedly told his Egyptian counterpart that "an orderly transition must be meaningful, it must be peaceful, and it must begin now."
Uk Prime Minister David Cameron toed the American line, urging the Egyptian government to present a clear timetable with details of the transfer of power.
"President Mubarak says he is going and we respect that," Cameron said. "But what matters is not just the orderly transition but also that it is urgent, it is credible, it starts now. We should be clear we stand with those in this country who want freedom and democracy and rights the world over."
For over a week, tens of thousands of Egyptians took to the streets calling for Mubarak's ouster. On Tuesday alone, over a million rallied in different provinces including the capital to reiterate their demand; however, Mubarak still refused to quit.
The 82-year-old president announced last night that he would not run for a sixth presidential term, promising constitutional amendments that would relax conditions of eligibility for presidential elections and put a curb on the number of terms a ruler may serve in office.
Nevertheless, Mubarak's pledges fell short of convincing the opposition to suspend its protests.
Earlier today, thugs tried to disperse thousands of anti-Mubarak protesters who rallied in downtown Cairo. Tens of men stormed in the crowd, some on camel and horseback, attacking protesters with swords and iron chains despite the presence of military personnel in the area. At least ten were injured in clashes.
This is a new episode of violent clashes that have marred anti-Mubarak protests. Last Friday, riot police deployed tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition to disperse an unprecedentedly large crowd. After nearly four hours of clashes, protesters who marched from different neighborhoods in Cairo made their way to the heart of the capital forcing the riot police to withdraw.
Since then, the military has been deployed to maintain public order.
For its part, the Egyptian armed forces expressed its full endorsement of the people's demands and offered protection to protesters who have camped in Tahrir Square since Saturday.
Yet today's violence prompted some demonstrators to question the army's intentions. They alleged that the military eased access for pro-Mubarak thugs into the area.
It remains to be seen how the West will respond to the renewal of violent action against Mubarak's opposition.