Egypt faces growing political and economic instability
Protests in Egypt continued over the weekend amid growing violence and political uncertainty. Cairo’s Tahrir Square was flooded on Friday 4 February in what protesters termed a ‘day of departure’, with disgruntled Egyptians calling for Hosni Mubarak’s immediate resignation.
The UN predicts 300 people have been killed so far in the protests. The US has again called for a smooth transition of power. Mubarak insists the country will end up in turmoil if he steps down before his term ends in September.
Internet and mobile connections were reinstated on 1 February after they were shut down on 27 January. Mobile operator Vodafone Egypt admitted it had been forced to send pro-government texts to subscribers urging them to refrain from demonstrating. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) estimates a loss of $90m as a result of the internet blockage.
Banks reopened on Sunday 6 February. There is still economic uncertainty surrounding Egypt and France’s Credit Agricole Bank says the country is losing at least $310m a day.
On Saturday, there was a gas explosion in the northern Sinai Peninsula, which resulted in gas flows to Jordan and Israel being shut off. The Natural Gas Company put it down to a gas leak, but there have been reports of a device being detonated inside the terminal.
Opposition leaders including the Muslim Brotherhood met with newly appointed vice-president Omar Suleiman on 6 February to discuss the political situation.
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