Egypt's protesters received a handful of compromises on Sunday, including freedom of the press and release of detained protesters—but as long as Mubarak is in office, that may not be enough. Plus, full coverage of the uprising.
On the 13th day of Egypt's protests, opposition leaders grabbed a handful of significant concessions from President Mubarak's government. During meetings with opposition groups including the Muslim Brotherhood, Vice President Omar Suleiman offered government compromises including freedom of the press, release of detainees imprisoned since anti-government protests began roughly two weeks ago, and eventual abolishment of the country's undemocratic emergency laws. The laws gave police extremist powers to suppress civil and human rights, and were imposed in 1981 when President Hosni Mubarak took office.
Photos: Egypt Protests
Though the concessions would have seemed revolutionary two weeks ago, opposition organizers nonetheless vowed to keep intensifying their pressure against Mubarak until he completely steps down. One opposition leader involved in the talks with Suleiman, former U.N. weapons inspect Mohamed ElBaradei, said after the meeting that he would refuse to negotiate with a government that has lost credibility. "We need to abolish the current constitution," he said. "We need to dissolve the current parliament...I don't think we will go to democracy through the dictatorial constitution."
Suleiman offered to set up a committee of judiciary and political figures to review proposed reforms to the country's constitution, which have requested that more candidates be able to run for president. He also pledged not to interfere with text messaging and internet access, and not to harass anti-government protesters. The government agreed to set up a committee of public and independent specialists and representatives of youth movements to monitor all new agreements.
Mubarak remains obstinate in the face of demands that he step down, claiming the sudden change of power would only heighten Egypt's chaos. In spite of U.S. support that he take over Mubarak's seat, Suleiman told ABC News that it would be unconstitutional for him to run for Egypt's presidency.
Protesters continue to occupy Tahrir Square in Cairo; banks and businesses reopened Sunday. There were long lines at ATMs and bank employees took names for waiting lists as people tried to withdraw money. Egypt’s financial system was infused with $854 million in cash in response to individuals withdrawing money—and each day, customers can take out up to 50,000 Egyptian pounds and $10,000 a day. The protests have raised the prices of some goods and are expected to hurt the Egyptian economy—especially tourism, a major source of income in Egypt. "We have to have some order around here. People are anxious to get paid and pull money out. It has been almost two weeks and life is at a standstill," said Metwali Sha'ban, a volunteer taking names for a bank waiting list. In Tahrir Square, army tanks tried to push protesters aside to make room for traffic in the usually busy intersection, and the commander of the army visited to ask protesters to leave. They refused to do so until Mubarak steps down.
President Obama addressed the Egypt crisis on Friday.