The Egyptian opposition gained ground as protesters converged in Cairo and Alexandria for a 'march of a million.' The army has recognized the protests as 'legitimate' and promised not to shoot demonstrators.
Protesters say they won't stop until Mubarak steps down
Hundreds of thousands of protesters have gathered in several cities across Egypt in their campaign to oust President Hosni Mubarak. Several hundred thousand were said to have turned out in Cairo, while similar numbers were reported from Alexandria.
The military had earlier assured protesters they would not come under fire. "To the great people of Egypt, your armed forces, acknowledging the legitimate rights of the people," stress that "they have not and will not use force against the Egyptian people," the military said in a statement.
The UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said on Tuesday that some 300 people had died as a result of the unrest so far.
Egyptians say Mubarak's government reshuffle isn't enough
Opposition figurehead Mohamed ElBaradei said Mubarak had been given until Friday to depart, while other opposition groups said they would not negotiate with the Egyptian president. "I hope President Mubarak goes and leaves the country after 30 years of rule. I don't think he wants to see more blood," ElBaradei told the Al-Arabiya news channel.
Meanwhile the US has ordered all its non-emergency staff to leave Egypt. Other foreign nationals, among them many Western tourists, are all also trying to get out of the country. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle on Tuesday issued a travel warning for the whole of Egypt, stressing that the advice included popular holiday destinations on the Red Sea.
After seven days of protests demanding the ouster of the country's 30-year ruler, Mubarak's reshuffled government has stayed put with promises of dialogue and democratic reform.
Newly-appointed Vice President Omar Suleiman appeared on state television Monday to say Mubarak had asked him to begin talks with all political forces on constitutional and other reforms.
The army has promised not to shoot at demonstrators
Germany calls for 'peaceful' reform
Wrapping up a two-day visit to Israel, German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Mubarak to guarantee freedom of demonstration and information and called for a "peaceful process of reform, rather than chaos and violence."
She also conceded that the international community may have failed to grasp the enormity of social, economic and political problems in Egypt.
"For decades we have all respected Mubarak's commitment to peace ... [but] there are obviously problems in Egypt which have come to light, problems which were not clearly known, and whose magnitude we didn't grasp until now," Merkel said.
Meanwhile German Development Minister Dirk Niebel on Tuesday said Berlin would continue to send aid to the country, despite the unstable political situation.
"Right now it is too early to talk about possible consequences for Egyptian-German development cooperation," Niebel told the Hamburger Abendblatt daily newspaper.
However, Niebel didn't discount the possibility that funds could be cut.
"Respect for human rights and good governance are essential criteria for the framework of our cooperation," Niebel told the daily, adding that Berlin was following developments in Egypt "very closely."
Author: Rob Mudge (AFP, Reuters, dpa)
Editor: Andreas Illmer