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Government dismissed; Mubarak Appoints VP

President Mubarak dismissed the government led by Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif, announcing “I have asked the government to resign and tomorrow there will be a new government…[to take steps to] contain unemployment, raise living standards, improve services and stand by the poor.” Mubarak appointed Ahmed Shafiq as his new Prime Minister and former intelligence chief Omar Suleiman as his Vice President (the first time the latter office has been held since Mubarak became president in October 1981). Mubarak also called for an end to the protests and defended security crackdowns on protesters.

The curfew in Cairo, Alexandria, and Suez was extended to 4pm-8am. Thousands took to the streets in these three cities, and confrontations with security forces reportedly resulted in 13 deaths in Suez and five in Cairo; over 1,000 were injured. In Suez, one contingent of protesters marched along the city’s main road, shouting anti-government chants and surrounding the morgue where the bodies of the 13 casualties were being held. In Beni Suef, 75 miles south of Cairo, varying reports indicated 12 to 17 people were killed in confrontations with security forces. Also south of Cairo, in Fayoum, 700 prisoners escaped, contributing to the chaotic atmosphere locally; with police and security forces absent from many areas, crime has skyrocketed nationwide.

U.S. President Barack Obama and the State Department urged Mubarak to initiate actual reform and not simply “reshuffle the deck.” After a meeting with his security team, Obama released a statement concluding that the United States is calling for “restraint, supporting universal rights, and supporting concrete steps that advance political reform.”