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Egypt's PM calls for national dialogue amid Friday march plans

December 22, 2011 |  7:46 am

REPORTING FROM CAIR0 — Egypt's military-appointed Prime Minister Kamal Ganzouri has called on protesters to bury the hatchet and begin a national dialogue to ensure calm and stability after five days of clashes that left at least 15 dead and over 800 injured.

“I say to everyone that we must forget the past and move forward in a dialogue with all shades so that Egypt can live in peace,” Ganzouri said in a news conference Thursday.

Ganzouri, 78, who previously served in the same post under toppled President Hosni Mubarak between 1996 and 1999, also said that the recurrent violence discourages Western and Arab Gulf countries from providing the financial help they promised Egypt after the revolution.

“There was financial assistance pledged by the G-8 [Group of 8] group of nations during their last meeting, as well as post-revolution assistance promised by some Arab Gulf countries. We have received none of it,” he said.

According to Ganzouri, a total of $9 billion in capital has fled Egypt over the past few months, consequently devaluing the Egyptian pound.

Ganzouri’s comments come as potential presidential candidate Mohamed El-Baradei’s National Front for Change called for a million-man march in Tahrir Square on Friday in sympathy for those who died during this week’s clashes.

Egypt’s biggest and most organized political force, the Muslim Brotherhood, whose political party already achieving massive gains after the first two stages of parliamentary elections, announced that its members would not take part in Friday’s march in order to help maintain calm.

Videotaped images that appeared to show military police using excessive force against demonstrators in recent days triggered condemnation at home and abroad. Protesters want an end to the Supreme Council of Armed Forces' control over the Egyptian government and the replacement of Ganzouri.

Earlier in the week, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called on the army to show restraint against demonstrators and condemned what she called “systematic degradation of Egyptian women that dishonors the revolution.” Her comments came after a photo of military men beating a veiled woman and partially stripping off her clothes was circulated online and in the media.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr lashed out Clinton’s comments.

“Egypt doesn’t accept any interference in its internal affairs,” the state news agency MENA quoted Amr as saying Wednesday.

Clashes between protesters, police and army officers has left nearly 50 people killed and thousands injured since the military took over Egypt following the collapse of Mubarak’s regime on Feb.11.


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Photo: Egyptian protesters shout slogans against the military ruling council in Tahrir Square in Cairo, on Thursday. Credit: Amr Nabil / Associated Press