Leaders of Egypt’s Ruling Party Resign

The politburo of Egypt’s ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) has resigned en masse, in an apparent response to anti-government protests.

Two key allies of President Hosni Mubarak, including his son Gamal, were stripped of their posts.

Both positions were taken by Hossam Badrawi, a reformer and prominent physician.

Protesters still occupy Cairo’s Tahrir Square, but their numbers have fallen from Friday’s huge rally.

President Mubarak has also held talks with his ministers to try to revive the economy.

Banks will reopen on Sunday, but Finance Minister Samir Radwan said the economic situation was “very serious”.

Analysts say the uprising is costing the country at least $310m a day.

Earlier there were reports of an explosion at a pipeline that supplies gas to Israel and Jordan. The blast caused a fire near el-Arish, Egyptian state television reported.

The resignation of leading NDP officials was announced on state TV.

“The members of the executive committee resigned from their posts. It was decided to name Hossam Badrawi secretary general of the party,” it said.

Gamal Mubarak lost his post as head of the policies committee, along with Secretary-General Safwat al-Sharif.

A state-owned TV report said President Mubarak, as party leader, had accepted the resignations.

An earlier report from a private TV channel said President Mubarak had also given up his party post, but this was later retracted.

US special envoy Frank Wisner said Gamal Mubarak’s resignation was a positive step.

“There is a chance to move forward. It’s fragile, it’s the first stage, things could go wrong. But the direction is promising,” he said.

The US was looking forward to additional steps towards political change, he added.

The BBC’s John Leyne in Cairo says that while the new secretary-general, Dr. Badrawi, is seen as a liberal he is still close to the ruling family, and this is another indication of the turmoil in the ruling elite.

On Saturday, the president met the prime minister, finance minister, oil minister and trade and industry minister, along with the central bank governor.

Trade Minister Samiha Fawzi Ibrahim said exports were down 6% in January and that the authorities were providing extra food to try to stabilize prices and curb shortages.

Banks and the stock exchange have been closed for days, and many factories in the major cities have shut.

State media said the stock market would not now open on Monday as planned.

The UN believes more than 300 have died across Egypt since the protests began on January 25th, with about 4,000 hurt.

Complete article via BBC.


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