Egypt’s factions digging heels in

Egyptian anti-government demonstrators camp in front of an army tank in Tahrir square.

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood said yesterday it could pull out of talks with the government if opposition demands were not met, including the immediate exit of President Hosni Mubarak who chaired a cabinet meeting yesterday.

Mubarak, 82, who refuses calls to end his 30-year-old rule before September polls, saying his resignation would cause chaos in the Arab world’s most populous nation, has tried to focus on restoring order and his government seems to be buying time.

Protesters, barricaded in a tent camp in Tahrir Square in the heart of Cairo, have vowed to stay until Mubarak quits and hope to take their campaign to the streets with more mass demonstrations.

The powerful army’s role in the next weeks is considered critical to the future of Egypt.

Claiming it was keen to get traffic moving, the army tried early yesterday to squeeze the area the protesters have occupied. Overnight campers rushed out of their tents to surround soldiers attempting to corral them.

The opposition has been calling for the constitution to be rewritten to allow free and fair elections, a limit on presidential terms, the dissolution of parliament, the release of political detainees and lifting of emergency law.

Next stop, Marrakesh express?

RABAT – The banned Islamist group Justice and Charity, believed to be Morocco’s biggest opposition force, has said “autocracy” will be swept away unless the country pursues deep democratic reform.

Authoritarian Arab leaders are watching carefully for signs of unrest spreading through the region after revolts in Tunisia and Egypt. Credit rating agencies Standard & Poor’s and Fitch have said Morocco is the least likely Maghreb state to be affected.


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