Culture minister resigns over govt response to Tahrir violence

Egyptian Culture Minister Emad Abu Ghazi submitted his resignation on Monday to interim Prime Minister Essam Sharaf to protest the security crackdown on protesters in downtown Cairo, which has left at least 22 dead.

In a one-hour meeting on Monday, Sharaf failed to convince Abu Ghazi to withdraw his resignation, according to an official cabinet source

Clashes in Tahrir Square and nearby streets in downtown Cairo have been continuing since Saturday, when police violently dispersed a sit-in by protesters, mainly people injured in the January uprising that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak in February.

State-owned Al-Ahram newspaper quoted Abu Ghazi as saying that he will not backtrack on his resignation, which he submitted to protest the government's handling of the situation.

The minister denied that he had intended to resign prior to the events.

The Dostor news website said on Sunday that Abu Ghazi declined to attend a cabinet meeting with the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which the government held to discuss the situation in downtown Cairo.

Protesters have been voicing demands for the removal of Sharaf's cabinet since Saturday. Activists accuse his government of lacking the authority required to manage the transitional period.

Following the meeting on Sunday, the government released a statement praising the Interior Ministry's self-restraint in face of protests which, it said, will not change the schedule for the upcoming parliament elections.

Egyptian presidential hopeful Mohamed ElBaradei, meanwhile, described the government's statement as "shameful." In an interview with private satellite channel Dream TV late Sunday, ElBaradei voiced his astonishment at the "self-restraint" for which the prime minister praised the security forces despite deaths among protesters.

“I hoped the cabinet would confess to its failure and leave the country to a heterogeneous national salvation government that can manage this critical phase," he said in the interview, which was also attended by Abdel Moneim Abouel Fotouh, another presidential hopeful.

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