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Egypt VP meets opposition, offers new concessions

Feb 6, 2011 9:10:00 PM - thestate.com
Egypt's vice president met with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood and other opposition groups for the first time Sunday and offered sweeping concessions, including granting press freedom and rolling back police powers in the government's latest attempt to try to end nearly two weeks of upheaval.

But the opposition leaders held firm to a demand the government rejects: that President Hosni Mubarak step down immediately. And the source of the opposition's sudden power - the youthful protesters filling Cairo's main square - said they weren't even represented at the talks and won't negotiate until Mubarak is gone.

"None of those who attended represent us," said Khaled Abdul-Hamid, one leader of a new coalition representing at least five youth movements that organized the 13-day-old protests. "We are determined to press on until our number one demand is met" - the ouster of Mubarak.

"The regime is retreating," Abdul-Hamid told The Associated Press. "It is making more concessions every day."

At the same time, there were signs that the paralysis gripping the country since the crisis began was easing Sunday, the first day of Egypt's work week. Some schools reopened for the first time in more than a week, and so did banks - though for only three hours, with long lines outside. A night curfew remains, and tanks continue to ring the city's central square and guard government buildings, embassies and other important institutions.

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