A protest organizer says a Google Inc. executive who played a key role in starting Egypt’s two—week—old uprising against President Hosni Mubarak has arrived at Cairo’s central Tahrir Square.
The appearance of Wael Ghonim, a 30—year—old marketing manager, comes with tens of thousands of demonstrators massed on the square as the uprising enters its third week. Many said they were there for the first time.
Mostafa al—Naggar told The Associated Press that Mr. Ghonim was entering the square on Tuesday afternoon but he was unable to give details. Mr. Ghonim, who was released from custody, has emerged as a rallying point for protesters who reject a group of traditional Egyptian opposition groups that have been negotiating with the government on their behalf in recent days.
Mubarak forms reform committees
In its latest effort to defuse public anger amid mass protests, embattled President Hosni Mubarak’s regime set up a committee on Tuesday to recommend constitutional changes that would relax presidential eligibility rules and impose term limits.
Mr. Mubarak’s decrees were announced on state television by Vice President Omar Suleiman, who also said that Mr. Mubarak had decreed the creation of a separate committee to monitor the implementation of all proposed reforms. The two committees would start working immediately, but Mr. Suleiman did not give details about who would sit on the panels or how they would be chosen.
The government has promised several concessions since an uprising began two weeks ago but so far they have fallen short of protesters’ demands that Mr. Mubarak step down immediately instead of staying on through September elections. Tuesday’s decision was the first concrete step taken by the longtime authoritarian ruler to implement promised reforms.
Probe ordered into last week's clashes
Mr. Mubarak also ordered a probe into clashes last week between the protesters and supporters of the president. The committee would refer its findings to the attorney—general, Mr. Suleiman said.
“The youth of Egypt deserve national appreciation,” he quoted the president as saying. “They should not be detained, harassed or denied their freedom of expression.”
Ghonim nominated as protestors' spokesman
About 90,000 people have joined a Facebook group nominating Mr. Ghonim to be their spokesman.
Tuesday’s announcement came two days after Mr. Suleiman met for the first time with representatives of opposition groups, including the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood - the country’s largest and best organized opposition group - to debate a way out of the ongoing political crisis.
The fundamentalist Islamic group issued a statement before Mr. Suleiman’s announcement on Tuesday calling the reforms proposed so far as “partial” and insisting that Mr. Mubarak must go to ease what it called the anger felt by Egyptians who face widespread poverty and government repression.
The Brotherhood also accused pro—Mubarak thugs of detaining protesters, including Brotherhood supporters, and handing them over to the army’s military police who torture them.
Muslim Brotherhood's call to the military
“We call on the military, which we love and respect, to refrain from these malicious acts,” said the statement.
The protesters have said they would not enter negotiations with the regime before Mr. Mubarak’s departure. Mr. Mubarak insists that he intends to serve the remainder of his current, six—year term, which expires in September, and that he would die in Egypt, thus rejecting any suggestion that he should leave the country.
The president went on with official business on Tuesday, receiving the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates. The official Middle East News Agency said Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan delivered a message from the UAE’s president but gave no further details.
Protesters rally around Google executive
Egyptian protesters are rallying around the Google Inc. executive as they try to maintain the momentum of a mass protest calling for President Mubarak's ouster.
Activists also called for one million people to fill the central Tahrir Square on Tuesday.
The protests already have brought the most sweeping changes since Mr. Mubarak took power nearly 30 years ago, but activists are insisting Mr. Mubarak step down immediately.
Mr. Ghoneim has said he was the administrator of a Facebook page used to organize Egypt's unprecedented pro-democracy uprising.