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EGYPT: Vice president offers new concessions

February 6, 2011 |  9:39 am

Egypt's Vice President Omar Suleiman agreed at a meeting with opposition figures Sunday to set up a national committee to consider constitutional reforms, according to a statement read on state-run television.

The statement also said the government would take steps to ensure press freedom, release jailed activists and lift the country’s emergency laws when security conditions permit.

But there was no mention in the statement that President Hosni Mubarak would step down before new elections are held in September, a key demand of anti-government protesters.

Two of the groups represented at the meeting said the concessions announced Sunday were only a first step, the Associated Press reported.

“People still want the president to step down,” said Mostafa al-Naggar, a supporter of Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei.

“The protest continues because there are no guarantees and not all demands have been met,” Al-Naggar was quoted as saying by the Associated Press. “We did not sign on to the statement. This is a beginning of a dialogue. We approve the positive things in the statement but ... we are still demanding that the president step down.”

The outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, the country's largest opposition group, said they too support a continuation of the protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.

“The people want the president and his regime to step down immediately,” Mohammed Morsey, a spokesman for the group, was quoted as saying by Bloomberg News. “We’re in the field, and we’re in the dialogue. There’s no contradiction.”

-- Alexandra Zavis

Photo: Newly appointed Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman, center, meets with youth representatives in Cairo on Sunday. Credit: Seliman El Oteifi / EPA

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