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World

Egypt protesters prepare for 'march of a million'

Egypt has announced a cabinet reshuffle, but police continue their clampdown, arresting foreign journalists. As protesters vow not to budge until President Hosni Mubarak resigns, countries are evacuating their citizens.

injured protester

Disenchanted protesters are preparing for a 'march of a million' on Tuesday

Egypt faced a seventh day of protests on Monday as protesters continued to defy a government curfew, calling for President Hosni Mubarak's ouster.

The demonstrators have also called a general strike for Monday and a "million man march" for Tuesday, to press Mubarak to step down from the post he has held since 1981.

Several hundred demonstrators stayed put in Cairo's Tahrir Square overnight Sunday, defying a government curfew set for 4 p.m. local time as fighter jets buzzed over their heads in a show of force.

At least 100 people have died since the unrest began last week. Al-Jazeera reported that six of its English-language reporters were arrested on Monday after the closure of the network's Cairo offices.

In an apparent effort to appease public anger, Mubarak announced a cabinet reshuffle, but the line-up remained largely unchanged with the exception of the widely disliked interior minister, Habib al-Adly, and the finance and culture ministers.

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protesters in alexandria

Protesters want an end to corruption, joblessness and draconian emergency laws

Meanwhile, European Union foreign ministers, meeting in Brussels on Monday, called for an orderly transition to a broad-based government in Egypt, saying democratic reforms were needed to create the conditions for free and fair elections.

The 27 ministers added in a statement after their meeting that any transition must "respect the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms."

EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, said that there needed to be "a peaceful way forward based on an open and serious dialogue with the opposition parties and all parts of civil society, and we believe it needs to happen now."

However, the foreign ministers stopped short of demanding that Mubarak step down.

"We should promote a normal democratic way without adopting a choice of who is better, [and] who is not. It is not up to us, it is up to the Egyptians," Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke with Mubarak by phone late Sunday, urging the president to guarantee the freedom of information following moves by the Egyptian government to cut Internet access and shut down the Al-Jazeera news network.

Mounting pressure

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle on Sunday assured anti-government protesters that Germany was on their side.

Evacuees at the German embassy

Germans lined up at their embassy to leave the country

"The German government stands by those who are calling for democracy and civil and human rights," he said in Berlin before flying to Tel Aviv for talks with the Israeli government on Monday.

Foreign governments, including the United States, Turkey, Greece, Japan, India, Canada and Saudi Arabia, have all begun evacuating their stranded citizens from Egypt.

On Monday, 140 Germans were set to leave Cairo in a flight organized by the German embassy.

Washington said that at least 2,400 Americans in Egypt had asked US officials for help leaving the country.

Rough estimates put the number of foreigners currently in Egypt - either as tourists or business people - at more than 100,000.

Author: Gregg Benzow, Sarah Harman (AFP, Reuters, dpa)
Editor: Martin Kuebler

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