Babylon & Beyond

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EGYPT: New Vice President Omar Suleiman says Mubarak wants him to work with other political parties on reform

January 31, 2011 |  1:42 pm

Newly appointed Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman said Monday that President Hosni Mubarak has asked him to tackle "constitutional and legislative reforms" and to include other political parties in the process.

In a televised address on the eve of a planned million-strong march through Cairo, the former intelligence chief appeared to be addressing a key demand of the protesters who have ground Egyptian political and economic life to a halt in an escalating campaign to force Mubarak to step down.

"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," Suleiman said in a televised address. He alluded to an intention to broaden eligibility of opposition candidates for the presidential election expected later this year.

The weeklong clamor for Mubarak's ouster is expected to come to a head Tuesday, when opponents of his authoritarian regime hope to draw at last 1 million people to the streets. The army announced Monday that soldiers wouldn't use force against demonstrators and that it deemed as "legitimate" their demands for political and economic change in the corruption-wracked nation of 80 million.

-- Carol J. Williams