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Egyptian VP vows changes to appease protesters

ICC Note:

CNN updates us on the situation in Egypt. Coptic Christians joined protestors and held mass in Tahrir Square praying for those who have been killed in the demonstrations. While Christians join fellow Muslims countrymen in protests calling for the end of President Mubarak’s 30-year reign, they are fearful that free elections in September could give power to the organized Muslim Brotherhood.

2/6/2011 Egypt (CNN) — Egypt’s vice president, Omar Suleiman, met with representatives of key opposition groups Sunday and offered concessions — including some that, if enacted, could bring dramatic change to the country.

Among the ideas agreed to by the two sides at the meeting, according to a report on state-run television, was a future end to the military emergency law that has been in place since President Hosni Mubarak came to power in 1981.

The two sides also discussed steps to ensure free media and communication and plans to form a series of committees that would oversee changes aimed at bringing about a representative government.

The opposition leaders who met with Suleiman do not represent all the demonstrators who have held mass protests over the past two weeks. One of the groups represented in the meeting was the Muslim Brotherhood — a group that, days ago, had said it would not negotiate until Mubarak left office. Members of the liberal parties Wafd and Ahrar have also engaged in talks with the newly appointed Suleiman.

Based on the meeting, the Muslim Brotherhood expects that on March 1, the two sides will take the next steps toward amendments in the constitution and reforming of the parliament, Mursi and Al Katatni said.

U.S. President Barack Obama expressed his belief Sunday that Egypt can have an orderly transition and a representative government. He also downplayed the prospect of the Muslim Brotherhood, which has voiced opposition to the United States, ascending to power in Egypt once its president, Hosni Mubarak, leaves office.

“They don’t have majority support in Egypt, but they are well organized,” Obama told Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly. “(But) there are a whole bunch of secular folks in Egypt, there are a whole bunch of educators and civil society in Egypt that want to come to the fore as well.”

The demonstrations Sunday generally seemed peaceful, often taking on a festive atmosphere. Among those taking part were members of Egypt’s Christian minority, who held a Mass in Tahrir Square paying tribute to those killed during clashes.

Egypt’s population is 10% Christian, a minority mostly made up of Coptic Christians.

The United States has been mounting pressure on Mubarak to step aside. On Saturday, 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.”

Obama, in phone calls with foreign leaders Saturday, emphasized the importance of an “orderly, peaceful transition” to a government that is “responsive to the aspirations of the Egyptian people.”

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