Opposition groups want ElBaradei to form transitional government

Egyptian protesters have responded defiantly to a new wave of intimidation adopted by the Hosni Mubarak government, by mobilising in their thousands on Sunday at Cairo's Tahrir Square, and other parts of the country, including Alexandria and Suez.

By appointing a new Cabinet of established hardliners, including Ahmed Shafiq a former air force chief, and Omar Suleiman, the long serving intelligence head as Vice-President, Mr. Mubarak, the Egyptian President, on Saturday conveyed to the protesters that he was in no mood to relent.

But cracks in the establishment appeared to be widening on Sunday as local media is reporting that Mohamed Tantawi, Minister of Defence, has joined protesters at Tahrir Square. Mr. Tantawi is also Commander-in-Chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces. Hundreds of judges had earlier linked up with protesters at Tahrir Square in seeking Mr. Mubarak's resignation.

Later on Sunday, national opposition groups have proposed that reformist leader Mohamed ElBaradei form a transitional government, a statement issued by the Democratic Front Party said.

The statement added that after Mr. Mubarak's imminent departure, Mr. ElBaradei should head efforts to negotiate the next steps, such as devising an economic and social reforms policy, release of all detainees, and the lifting the 30-year emergency.

In efforts to unnerve the protesters, two F16s fighter jets nosily swooped low over Tahrir Square, but the people assembled did not disperse.

Meanwhile, organised looting, targeting residential colonies and repositories of Egyptian antiquity, has been violently unleashed among the ordinary citizenry. The Egyptian daily Al Masry Al Youm quoted opposition leader Ayman Nour, of the Ghad Party, as saying that his fellow party members had caught some of the hooligans, bearing Interior Ministry Identity cards on them.

The Egyptian Museum in Cairo's city centre was vandalised on Friday night by nine convicts. The prisoners tried to steal two mummies, but left them behind when they broke into pieces.”

The regime is trying to project the worst image possible to make it clear to the people that they have only one of two alternatives: the existing order or chaos,” Mr. Nour said.

Analysts say that support to lumpens is a well established tactic to divide the working poor and its supporters in the middle classes and the intelligentsia during an uprising.

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