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Egypt party members step down

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Egypt party members step down

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Cairo, Egypt – Apparent fissures in Egypt’s regime surfaced today as key members of the embattled ruling party, including President Hosni Mubarak’s once heir-apparent son, resigned their party leadership posts and the vice president began talks with opposition leaders.
In the strongest gesture yet to satisfy angry Egyptians who have been protesting for 12 days, members of the general secretariat of the ruling National Democratic Party stepped down from those leadership positions, state television reported.
The embattled Mubarak, however, remained in his position as head of the party’s higher council and as head of state despite popular demands that he relinquish power immediately.
But Mubarak’s son, Gamal, the once presumptive heir, was among those who resigned party posts, meaning that he is no longer eligible to take over after his father.
Mubarak has already announced he will not seek re-election in the September election. Gamal Mubarak’s resignation effectively puts to rest a widespread belief that the embattled president was preparing for a dynastic handover.
The United States has been mounting pressure on Mubarak to step aside and Saturday U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking at a security conference in Germany, said it is “important to follow the transition process announced by the Egyptian government, actually headed by vice president Omar Suleiman.”
However, the diplomatic official who delivered a message from the Obama administration to Egypt’s leadership this week, said Mubarak “remains utterly critical in the days ahead as we sort our way toward the future,” and must stay in office.
U.S. officials emphasized that Frank Wisner, a former ambassador to Egypt, was speaking for himself, as an expert on the region, and not for the Obama administration.
Changes are needed in Egypt to pave the way for a smooth transition, and “the president must stay in office in order to steer those changes through,” said Wisner, a former ambassador to Egypt. “It’s his opportunity to write his own legacy.” (CNN)