Egypt's ruling party resigns, including Mubarak's son

Egypt's ruling party resigns, including Mubarak's son
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State television in Egypt says the leadership of the ruling National Democratic Party has resigned, including Gamal Mubarak, the son of the embattled leader.

Earlier reports from the Al Aribya TV station and other news agencies that Hosni Mubarak had also resigned as head of the NDP have proved to be false.

The new secretary general of the party is Hossam Badrawi, seen as a member of the liberal wing of the party.

The Reuters news agency quoted a party official who said that even if Hosni Mubarak resigned from the party it would not affect his position as president. “These are two different positions,” the official said.

The outgoing leaders include secretary general Safwat el-Sherif, 77, who has been powerful in the Egyptian establishment since the 1960s and is a pillar of the old guard. Sherif is also speaker of the upper house of parliament.

Without a place in the leadership, Gamal Mubarak would no longer qualify as the party’s presidential candidate under the existing constitution.

President Mubarak himself bears the title of NDP president and state television did not say that had changed. The outgoing leadership make up the five-man core committee in the party. The other members are Zakaria Azmi, Mubarak’s chief of staff, NDP spokesman Ali el-Din Hilal and steel magnate Ahmed Ezz, who had already resigned a few days after the outbreak of the popular uprising against Mubarak.

The party was one of the main targets of the uprising and its headquarters near Tahrir Square was gutted by fire during the protests.

This is the 12th day of protest on the streets of Cairo and other Egyptian cities and the two sides remain locked in opposition. The widespread violence for now has disappeared along with most of the pro-Mubarak supporters, but thousands of anti-government supporters remain in Tahrir Square, and Hosni Mubarak remains in office.

With the exception of some isolated incidents, the guns, stones and sticks are gone, replaced by banners, chanting, speeches and tents – an indication of the determination of those seeking the president’s removal, before any negotiations take place.

The suggestion that President Hosni Mubarak could stay on in a symbolic role and hand over power to the Vice-President, Omar Suleiman, seems to be fading away. The main opposition leaders are not going along with it, and there are reportedly constitutional obstacles.

But if it is less tense on the streets, the political exchanges are becoming more direct. While most of the West is still calling for an immediate and peaceful transition to an alternative government, Egypt’s largest Arab neighbour, Saudi Arabia, has called the protests In Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere, a plot by enemies of Islam to spread instability in the Arab world.

Meanwhile, the U.S Secretary of State Hiliary Clinton says the Middle East is facing a “perfect storm” of unrest. She says regional leaders must quickly enact real democratic reforms or risk even greater instability.

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