Cairo/Washington/Hamburg: The US said Egypt faces a
"bumpy" process in its transition to a multi-party democracy as
determined Egyptians continued with their protests for the 15th
day against Hosni Mubarak Tuesday, a day when it was reported that
the 82-year-old president could be headed to a luxury German
The protesters, enthused by the release of senior Google executive
Wael Ghonim Monday, became more determined to see the ouster of
Mubarak who has ruled the country for nearly 30 years.
They camped through the night at downtown Cairo's Tahrir square as
the protests entered its 15th day Tuesday.
The government Monday offered a pay rise to public-sector workers,
but the sop was promptly shot down by the pro-democracy
"(The pay rise) doesn't mean anything," Sherif Zein, a protester
at Tahrir Square told Al Jazeera Tuesday.
"Maybe it will be a short-term release for the workers ... but
most of the people will realise what this is, it's just a tablet
of asprin, but it's nothing meaningful."
The embattled president, who has been in power for three decades,
one of the longest serving rulers in the Middle East, has said
that he is ready to step down at the end of his term in September,
but not now. Mubarak, a staunch ally of the US that has helped to
prop him up as a pillar of stability in a volatile region, also
warned of chaos in the country if he left now.
The US is trying to work out a proposal to have a transition
government in the country. The Egyptian government Sunday held
talks with the opposition group, Muslim Brotherhood that had been
banned for the past several years.
Vice President Omar Suleiman said Tuesday that Mubarak would set
up a committee that would carry out constitutional and legislative
amendments to enable a shift of power.
The US has been closely monitering the Egypt crisis. The US has
now signalled its backing for a more deliberate approach to
political negotiations in Egypt with White House saying its key
ally faces a "bumpy" process in its transition to a multi-party
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs Monday told reporters
that Cairo should "outline a series of steps and a timeline that
the Egyptian people are comfortable with".
Gibbs said: "This is a process that is going to be at times bumpy,
because when for 28 years you have had one leader, without ...
really a robust opposition, it's going to take some time to work
this stuff out."
Life in Cairo - barring the Tahrir square - has been slowly
getting back to normal. Some shops and banks were open, the
traffic on the streets was increasing.
DPA reported from Cairo that Egypt's economy is struggling to
recover from the closure of banks and businesses during the
Banks reopened for limited business Sunday. Mahmoud Abdellatif,
head of Bank of Alexandria, said business was better than
expected, as deposits were greater than withdrawals.
Egypt's stock exchange announced it would reopen at the end of the
week after a two-week closure triggered by the unrest that caused
a 17-percent loss on the benchmark EGX30 index in the last two
days it traded.
However, tanks continue to guard government buildings, embassies
and other important institutions in the capital to ensure that
there is no repeat of the violence that broke out last week.
Mubarak has ordered to set up an independent commission to
investigate clashes between his supporters and protesters in Cairo
last week that killed at least 11 people.
He said Monday that the commission must be fully independent and
"comprise people who are known in Egypt as decent and
trustworthy", RIA Novosti reported.
The president urged the commission to investigate "the facts of
unacceptable violations committed against the protesters".
The unrest has claimed the lives of at least 300 people and
injured several thousand.
Amid the continuing political upheaval, Spiegel Online, the web
version of the reputed German magazine Der Spiegel published from
Hamburg, dramatically revealed that a German luxury clinic that
offers "comfort and service of a top hotel" is being considered
The move to Germany is part of an exit strategy being worked out
for Mubarak is facing unprecedented challenge to his rule.
Spiegel Online reported that plans for a possible hospital stay in
Germany appear to be more concrete than previously believed and
the luxury clinic near Baden-Baden is being considered.
Talks are being held with suitable hospitals, including the Max-Grundig-Klinik
Bühlerhöhe in the southwestern town of Bühl near Baden-Baden.
The clinic has a respected oncology department and says on its
website that it provides "first-class medical care" and the
"comfort and service of a top hotel".
Patients are put up in suites up to 200 square meters in size.
There have been rumours in the past that Mubarak suffers from
cancer. Mubarak had his gallbladder and an intestinal polyp
removed in the Heidelberg University Clinic in 2010.