Monday, February 21, 2011

CAIRO | Egyptian online democracy activists are calling for a demonstration Tuesday to demand the removal of the country’s interim government, saying it contains too many old faces.

The “Tuesday of Challenge” march aims to rally 1 million followers to keep up pressure on the army-led administration, in an echo of the massive demonstrations that forced President Hosni Mubarak to step down on Feb. 11.

The call for more protests in Egypt was issued as unrest continued in Bahrain, Algeria and Yemen, where embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh vowed to cling to the power he has held for three decades. In Morocco, King Mohammed said he will not cede any authority to “demagoguery” from thousands of protesters who demonstrated on Sunday.

The unrest sweeping the Arab world has been unsettling autocratic rulers since the fall of the regimes in Tunisia and Egypt.

“The winds of change are blowing on the Arab world and on the Middle East,” Amr Mussa, secretary-general of the Arab League, told Spain’s leading daily El Pais. “The influence of the great Egyptian revolution and the initial revolution in Tunisia will be enormous.”

In Bahrain, a group of young protesters camped out in the capital called for the ouster of the entire ruling monarchy as part of sweeping demands to call off a weeklong uprising. The tiny but strategically important Gulf nation is home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet.

Tensions are still high in Bahrain after seesaw battles in which riot police opened fire on protesters trying to reclaim landmark Pearl Square last week. At least eight people have been killed and hundreds injured in the clashes since the unrest spilling across the Arab world reached the Gulf last week.

In Yemen, members of parliament joined protesters in the capital, Sanaa, to demand Mr. Saleh’s resignation, but the president remained defiant.

“If they want me to quit, I will only leave through the ballot box,” he told reporters. “The opposition are raising the level of their demands, some of which are illicit.”

Demonstrations broke out across Yemen as tens of thousands took to the streets to demand reform. Protests erupted in the capital as well as the southern city of Aden, the western port city of Al-Hudaydah, in Taez, south of Sanaa, and in the northern city of Saada — the stronghold of Shiite Huthi rebels.

At least 11 people have been killed in Yemen since protests against the government flared up this month. One youth was fatally shot Monday, medical officials said.

In Morocco, where the king dismissed demands for power sharing, authorities reported the discovery of five burned bodies found in a bank set ablaze in a northern town in unrest that erupted after weekend demonstrations.

The Interior Ministry announced that 128 people, including 115 members of the security forces, were wounded in violence in several towns after largely peaceful demonstrations Sunday.

In Algeria, about 500 students rallied in the capital in another of the scatter strikes and protests in recent weeks, despite a ban on public gatherings dating to a bloody Islamic insurgency in the 1990s.

In Egypt, authorities continued efforts to track the wealth of Mr. Mubarak and his family. Some reports have pegged his fortune at up to $70 billion.

Prosecutor General Abdel Magid Mahmud requested a freeze on Mr. Mubarak’s foreign assets and asked Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit to contact other countries to uncover his wealth as well as assets held by his wife, Suzanne, sons Alaa and Gamal, and their wives, Heidi Rasekh and Khadiga al-Gammal.

Mr. Mubarak is widely thought to have grown wealthy during his three decades in power, although an unidentified legal adviser was quoted by the state-run MENA news agency on Sunday as saying talk of a multibillion-dollar fortune was nothing but “a groundless rumor.”

Switzerland, which froze Mr. Mubarak’s assets within hours of his resignation on Feb. 11, said Sunday that the former president had “tens of millions of francs” in Swiss financial institutions.

From combined dispatches

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