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Rediff.com  » News » Mubarak sacks cabinet, street battles go on

Mubarak sacks cabinet, street battles go on

January 29, 2011 12:03 IST

Showing no signs of quitting, embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Saturday sacked his government as thousands of protesters defied curfew demanding an end to his 30-year-old autocratic rule.

Also Read: Egypt crisis: Mass protests erupt against Mubarak

In a late night televised speech, 82-year-old Mubarak defended the actions of police, who had tried to clamp down the protesters by firing tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons at them.

Mubarak, who has ruled Egypt for three decades, asked his cabinet to resign and promised reforms.

"I have asked the government to present its resignation and tomorrow (on Saturday) there will be a new government," he said.

"We will not backtrack on reforms. We will continue with new steps which will ensure the independence of the judiciary and its rulings, and more freedom for citizens," he said.

Even as he made the announcement, thousands of protesters continued to defy curfew in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez on Friday night and poured on the streets with many of them asking patrolling soldiers to join them.

There were reports of looting in several parts of Cairo including in offices related to the government.

At least 27 people have been killed in the clashes and over hundreds injured. Around 1,000 protesters have been arrested across the country since the protests broke out four days ago.

In unprecedented scenes on Friday, protesters had set ablaze the headquarters of Mubarak's National Democratic Party in Cairo and two police stations and smashed security vehicles.

Protesters had also tried to storm the Foreign Ministry office.

Mubarak had clamped night curfew from 6 pm to 7 am in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez cities. Later, the curfew was extended nationwide.

The president had on Friday asked the "armed forces, in cooperation with the police, to implement the decision, and maintain security and secure public establishments and private property".

Reports said that pro-democracy leader Mohamed ElBaradei, who had joined the wave of protests, was placed under house arrest.

Authorities had on Friday cut Internet and cell-phone data services across the country in a bid to hamper protesters from organising mass rallies.

The protests for Mubarak's ouster came against the backdrop of widespread resentment over rising unemployment, food prices and corruption.

The unrest comes close on the heels of an uprising in Tunisia in which Zine al Abidine Ben Ali was ousted after ruling the country for 23 years.

The demonstrations are backed by both the country's biggest opposition group -- the Muslim Brotherhood -- and ElBaradei, galvanising the protests.

Also Read: GET OUT, angry Arabs tell their leaders

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