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Egypt`s new PM vows to meet protesters` demands

Last Updated: Friday, March 4, 2011 - 20:44

Cairo: Egypt`s Prime Minister-designate
on Friday vowed before thousands of demonstrators at a central
Cairo square to do everything he could to meet their demands
and pleaded with them to turn their attention to "rebuilding"
the country.

Essam Sharaf was picked by Egypt`s military rulers
yesterday to replace Ahmed Shafiq as prime minister.

Shafiq was the last premier to be named by Hosni
Mubarak, who stepped down Feb 11 in the face of massive
anti-government protests demanding an end to his 30-year rule.

A former transport minister, Sharaf endeared himself
to the protesters when he joined the demonstrations that
forced Mubarak to resign. His made his address Friday at
Tahrir Square, the protests` epicentre.

"I draw will and determination from here," he told the
estimated 10,000 demonstrators. "I will do my utmost to
realise your demands," he said, pledging to step down if he

Shafiq, a US-educated civil engineer, served in the
Cabinet for 18 months between 2004 and 2005.

His appearance at the square today he was carried on
the shoulders of demonstrators to and from the podium was the
latest evidence of the power retained by the youth groups
nearly a month after they ousted Mubarak.

Sharaf`s government will serve in a caretaker capacity
until parliamentary elections are held.

However, Sharaf declined to take an oath of office
before the demonstrators as they demanded and left the square
amid chants of "Swear! Swear!"

Besides Shafiq`s resignation, the revolt`s leaders
want Mubarak`s National Democratic Party dissolved along with
the hated State Security Agency blamed for some of the worst
human rights violations during Mubarak`s rule.

Other demands include the prosecution of security
officials behind the deaths of protesters and the release of
political prisoners.

"I am here because I get my legitimacy from you,"
Sharaf, in a gray business suit but no tie, told the
demonstrators. He called on the protesters to turn their
attention to "rebuilding Egypt."

"I pray to God that I see an Egypt where free opinions
are voiced outside (prison) cells and security agencies are in
the service of the nation."


First Published: Friday, March 4, 2011 - 20:44
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