Pro-democracy reformer Mohamed ElBaradei is fast emerging as the natural ally of young protesters camping at Tahrir Square, who are regrouping to influence future negotiations that could lead to Egypt's transition to a democracy.
At the square, the pro-democracy activists, as witnessed by this correspondent on Monday are uncompromising in their demand to see the exit of current regime of President Hosni Mubarak.
In the wake of the initial round of talks on Sunday which a section of the opposition, including the banned Muslim Brotherhood, held with Vice-President Omar Suleiman, youth activists at Tahrir Square have decided to throw up a coherent leadership of their own. Five major groups, who have been at the core of the protests, have formed a “revolutionary committee” of 10 people, Egyptian daily Al Masry Al Youm reported on its website on Tuesday.
The daily added that the 10 represent a coalition that includes the April 6 youth movement, led by blogger Ahmad Maher and 26-year old woman activist Asma Mahfouz, as well as the youth wing of the Muslim Brotherhood. Others represented are from the Mohamed ElBaradei Support Group, the Young Freedom and Justice Movement and the Democratic Front Party's youth wing.
The ranks of the youthful protesters were bolstered on Monday with the release from police custody, of Wael Ghonim, a Google executive, credited with setting up the Facebook page “We are all Khaled Said,” which played a leading role in sparking protests on January 25. His release after he went missing on January 28 has been widely welcomed by the pro-democracy camp. In an interview with Egypt's Dream TV after his release Mr. Ghonim said: “If you want to arrest me, that's your right. But there are laws and I am not a terrorist or a drug-dealer. We have to tear down this system based on not being able to speak out.”
In tune with the calls emerging from Tahrir Square, Mr. ElBaradei, has in an interview with CNN said he would not negotiate with the
Egyptian regime, unless Mr. Mubarak stepped down. “I think the people are very clear that Mubarak has to retire, in dignity, but he has to go. There is a huge question of credibility…that Mubarak is symbol of an outgoing regime ... if he doesn't leave, you know, that the regime will retrench and then come back ... with vengeance.” The former chief of the International Atomic Energy also said that unlike the structure of Sunday's talks, a dialogue can commence with the formation of a new three member “presidential council”. He added that the present constitution has to be abolished and Parliament dissolved.
These are “all elements of the dictatorship regime,” he observed.
On Tuesday crowds poured in their thousands in Tahrir square, the epicentre of the pro-democracy revolt. Al Jazeera television said many, inspired by Mr. Ghonim's call and release, were for the first time present at the square.
Meanwhile, Mr. Suleiman said on Egyptian state television, a plan for the peaceful transfer of power had been formulated. He said Mr. Mubarak would establish a committee to consider constitutional and legislative amendments. Mr. Suleiman said a separate committee would be formed to supervise implementation of proposed reforms.
Keywords: Egypt crisis