Egypt: US steps up pressure on Egypt protests

By Nangayi Guyson in Kampala Uganda – The US government has lifted up its criticism of Egypt’s leadership after two weeks consecutive days of protests against the rule of President Hosni Mubarak.

egypt demonstratorsThe US Spokesman Robert Gibbs said they had yet to take the “necessary steps” the country’s people needed to see.

The protests in the capital Cairo on Wednesday spread to the parliament and there are reports of widespread industrial action, and also protests outside Cairo.

The Associated Press (AP) news agency reports that the capital also saw protests by state electricity workers and museum workers on Wednesday. However, Egypt’s most famous tourist attraction, the Pyramids of Giza, reopened to tourists.

The Egyptian government has announced plans for a peaceful transition which see President Mubarak staying in office until elections in September, but opposition groups fear the government is stalling for time and will fail to enact meaningful changes.

According to BBC, Mr Gibbs said: “The government has not yet taken  necessary steps that the people of Egypt need to see and that’s why more and more people come out to register their grievances.

“If there’s some notion on the government side that you can put the genie back in this bottle, I think that’s gone a long time ago.”

He added that the US was reviewing its aid programme to Egypt, and the government’s restraint and reform would determine “what that aid will look like”.

His remarks follow Tuesday’s call by US Vice-President Joe Biden for the Egyptian government to lift its longstanding state of emergency, and to stop harassing journalists and activists.

However, the Egyptian government has resisted growing pressure on Thursday from  the United States and from a still energetic popular protest movement, both demanding radical and immediate political change.

Growing concern among the business community and the wider population about the economic impact of more than two weeks of disruption is adding to strains facing the cabinet appointed 10 days ago by President Hosni Mubarak to try to stave off the unprecedented challenge to his 30 years of one-man rule.