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Egypt new cabinet meets
CAIRO, Feb 7 (Agencies):
Published on 8 Feb. 2011 1:26 AM IST
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Egypt’s newly appointed cabinet met Monday as the government attempted to reassert stability over the turbulent country with protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square continuing to resist the new administration.
The cabinet met without the widely despised former Interior Minister, Habib al-Adly -- replaced by another police general, Mahmud Wagdi -- and some signs of freedom were becoming apparent for the large number of protesters detained over the past two weeks.
Following widespread international outrage, a Google executive was scheduled to be released Monday afternoon, Egyptian television reported. Wael Ghonim, Google’s head of marketing for the Middle East and North Africa, had traveled to Egypt from his home in Dubai and was believed arrested Jan. 27.
Ghonim was arrested after joining the protests in central Cairo, according to Amnesty International investigators who spoke to eyewitnesses.
Ghonim announced on his Twitter feed before his arrest that he had been “brutally beaten up by police people.” Not long before he disappeared, he wrote: “Very worried as it seems that government is planning a war crime tomorrow against people. We are all ready to die.”
The release of prisoners has been a key demand of opposition representatives who met with newly appointed Vice President Omar Suleiman. They also are looking immediately for greater press freedom, a lifting of emergency laws, and restraint in the use of force against anti-government protesters, in addition to comprehensive political reforms.
Government spokesman Magdy Rady said there has been so much instability that “some groups” may be holding detainees without the government’s authorization.
15% rise in salaries and pensions
Egypt’s new cabinet has announced a 15% rise in salaries and pensions in an attempt to draw the sting from the public protests that have convulsed the country, threatening to drive Hosni Mubarak out of power after 30 years.
The increase for public sector workers followed earlier proposals for greater political freedom that have yet to convince pro-democracy protesters to leave Tahrir Square after two weeks of unrest that have claimed up to 300 lives.
The new finance minister, Samir Radwan, says some 6.5bn Egyptian pounds ($960m) will be allocated to cover the increases, which will take effect in April for the 6 million people on the public payroll. State TV also announced that the family of a Google marketing manager who helped organise the anti-Mubarak demonstrations, has been told he will be released from prison. Wael Ghonim was one of the most prominent youth organisers of the protests and was seized by security agents last month.
But the concessions were unlikely to win over protesters, who insist that Mubarak should go now and not in September, when new elections are due to be held.

“Our main objective is for Mubarak to step down,” said student Muhammad Eid. “We don’t accept any other concessions.”

Rami Ghoneim, an unemployed internet activist, said the protesters were in no rush to leave so long as their key demand was not met. The longer they stay, he said, the more concessions the regime offers.

“It is like a wound, the more you press on it the more blood gushes out. We will press until we empty it,” he said.

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