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EGYPT: Protesters, analysts denounce Cabinet changes as futile

January 31, 2011 |  7:55 am

Mubarak Protesters and political analysts have quickly denounced embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's Cabinet shuffle as an empty gesture and a desperate attempt to cling to power.

Monday's appointment of new finance and interior ministers, following the naming on Saturday of the first vice president of Mubarak's 30-year rule, seemed more to galvanize his opponents than placate them. Tens of thousands continued to demonstrate and paralyze economic life in the capital, Cairo.

Shouts of "Get Out" rang through an emboldened crowd on Tahrir Square, where Mubarak opponents have gathered for seven days running in the nation's most defiant challenge of his authoritarian regime. Protesters ignored the government's expanded curfew that began at 3 p.m. Monday and was intended to keep people off the streets until 8 a.m.

"This is a failed attempt. He is done with," Mostafa el-Naggar, a member of emerging opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei's Association for Change, told the Associated Press.

Outside Egypt, analysts also saw the Cabinet appointments as unlikely to slow the mounting unrest in the nation of 80 million, the Middle East's most populous.

"This new Cabinet is too little, too late. I think Mubarak will probably be gone well before 30 days is up," Zaineb Al-Assam, a Middle East expert at London's Exclusive Analysis, told the Reuters news agency.

Foreign telecommunications companies stepping in to connect protesters to Internet

Egypt's police return; foreigners try to evacuate

Photos: Unrest in Egypt

-- Carol J. Williams

Photo: A woman carrying a placard referring to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak attends a demonstration  in Cairo's Tahrir Square. Credit: Lefteris Pitarakis / Associated Press.