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Protesters keep up momentum in Egypt

Category: , , , By Echo
Cairo, Egypt (CNN) -- Momentum held up on the 16th day of protests in Egypt as massive crowds once again jammed Cairo's Tahrir Square Wednesday, spilling over into a nearby compound housing government buildings.

The expanded protests forced the government to move parliament to another building, state television said.

Fueled by anger at the regime's incremental concessions and a denunciation of demands for President Hosni Mubarak's immediate exit, the rowdy demonstrations again drew thousands, many even from other cities and towns.

"The word 'departure,' which is repeated by some of the protesters, is against the ethics of the Egyptians because Egyptians respect their elders and their president," Vice President Omar Suleiman told a group of newspaper editors, according to a state-run news agency.

"It is also an insulting word not only to the president but for the people of Egypt as a whole," he said.

But the protesters chanted: "Mubarak is a thief." Mubarak, meanwhile, went about business as usual Wednesday, meeting with his foreign minister and Russia's deputy foreign minister, state-run television showed.

There were signs that the unrest had spread to other parts of Egypt.

Two people were killed and others were wounded in clashes with police in southern Egypt, state TV reported. A journalist said the hostilities stemmed from complaints about a member of the police force in Kharga.

In the northern town of Port Said, protesters attacked the governor's building over a land and housing dispute, state TV said.

The protesters returned in full force Wednesday, galvanized the day before by the tears and words of a Google executive who was seized by security forces and released Monday.
Perhaps the reluctant face of the movement, Wael Ghonim, told CNN Wednesday that "this is no longer the time to negotiate" with the Egyptian government -- not after hundreds of lives have been lost over the last two weeks.

Human Rights Watch has been able to document 302 deaths so far since protests erupted on January 25.

Ghonim, a Dubai-based marketing executive, is the administrator of a Facebook page called "We are all Khaled Said," named after an Alexandria activist who was allegedly beaten to death by police. The page is widely credited with triggering the first protest January 25.
Monday evening, Ghonim's tearful interview on an Egyptian television channel struck a chord with protesters. The next day, he addressed the crowds at Tahrir Square, inspiring Egyptians to keep up the fight.

"This country, I have said for a long time, this country is our country, and everyone has a right to this country," he said. "You have a voice in this country. This is not the time for conflicting ideas, or factions, or ideologies. This is the time for us to say one thing only, 'Egypt is above all else.'"

Another Facebook page created to authorize Ghonim to speak on behalf of the protesters has 150,000 fans.

Mubarak's regime said Tuesday that it had discussed a number of reforms with leaders of various opposition groups and appointed a panel to look into amending the constitution, But Wednesday, it again sought to portray the strongman's immediate exit as a recipe for chaos.
Suleiman said that "dialogue and mutual understanding are the first way to achieve stability" and that a coup would "mean miscalculated and rushed steps" and would lead to more "irrationality."

His words prompted a public show of frustration from the Obama administration.
A short White House statement on U.S. Vice President Joe Biden's telephone conversation with Suleiman used the word "immediate" or "immediately" four times.

Biden "urged that the transition produce immediate, irreversible progress that responds to the aspirations of the Egyptian people."

The statement also hinted the White House harbors doubts as to whether the Egyptian government is seriously committed to reforms, referring to the regime's statements as "what the government is saying it is prepared to accept."

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