Tahrir Square - protest losing momentum
Photo: Reuters
Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman
Photo: AFP

Egypt protest losing steam? Cairo relatively quiet as talks begin

Only a few thousand anti-Mubarak protestors gather at Tahrir Square as Muslim Brotherhood, VP Suleiman kick off negotiations. UN chief concerned unrest may hurt Israel-PA peace process; pope prays for Egypt 'tranquility'

Nearly two weeks have passed since the anti-government riots broke out in Egypt, but President Hosni Mubarak's government has yet to collapse. Following mass protests in which hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of Cairo and Alexandria, it appears as though the protest is losing momentum, with only a few thousand showing up at Tahrir Square on Sunday.


Meanwhile, Vice President Omar Suleiman and representatives from the Muslim Brotherhood –Egypt's most influential opposition group – launched negotiations Sunday to pull the country out of its worst crisis in 30 years.


Al Arabiya reported that during the talks the Brotherhood's representatives are insisting that the protestors' demands be met. Opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei is being represented at the talks by one of his associates.


For now it seems the negotiations have helped quell the civil unrest in Cairo. Only a few thousand people have gathered at Tahrir Square, which has seen mass protests and bloody clashes between anti-government activists and Mubarak supporters. The Egyptian army has also reduced its presence in the area.


UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Sunday he was concerned that the unrest in Egypt could have "serious implications" for the Middle East peace process.


Ban, who was in Munich for an annual security conference, told a small group of reporters at his hotel that Mubarak and the Egyptian government have been key in the negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel.


"This is why we are concerned," he said.


Also on Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI said he is praying that Egypt can find tranquility and peaceful coexistence.


Benedict said he is attentively following the "delicate situation in the dear Egyptian nation," addressing thousands of pilgrims Sunday in St. Peter's Square.


The pope said he is asking God that the country, marked by days of protests, can "find again tranquility and peaceful coexistence, in the shared commitment for the common good."


AP contributed to the report



פרסום ראשון: 02.06.11, 14:44
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