Egypt's beleaguered regime announced today that it will hold new elections in the coming weeks, a remarkable concession by President Hosni Mubarak after a week of massive protests demanding that he step down.
The announcement was made by Mubarak's newly appointed vice president, Omar Suleiman, who said that he has been authorized to talk to opposition parties.
Suleiman's statement came as protesters are hoping to turn out a million demonstrators on the streets Tuesday in what could be decisive showdown between Mubarak and the opposition forces.
Hundreds of Americans fled the turbulent country as Egyptians prepared for another day of protests.
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A total of nine flights carrying a mix of official and non-Embassy staff will leave Cairo by the end of today, for Cyprus, Greece and Turkey, the State Department said.
Many others remained at Cairo's airport, hoping to leave the country where protests over the last week have left scores dead and hundreds injured.
Mubarak, the embattled president of the world's largest Arab state, swore in a new cabinet today but the move merely resonated with protesters as another way for the 82-year-old president to cling to power.
The appointment of the new cabinet did little to quell the thousands of anti-government demonstrators calling for Mubarak's ouster. The new government is filled with familiar faces, including Vice President Omar Suleiman, who previously served as intelligence chief, and Ahmed Shafiq, minister of aviation and ex-leader of the Egyptian Air Force, who is the new prime minister. Mubarak also retained his long-time defense and foreign ministers.
Thousands defied a fourth day of curfew and converged in Cairo's main center, which has served as the staging ground for this uprising, chanting "we want the fall of the regime," and "Mubarak must go."
"This is not a new government. This is the same regime, this is the same bluff. He (Mubarak) has been bluffing us for 30 years... We gave him more than one chance, but he does not understand," said one angry protester.
The Obama administration maintained public place pressure on Mubarak, though officials again refused to take sides.
"We're not picking between those on the street and those in the government," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters today. "I don't think people looking for freedom are looking for someone else to pick what and how that change looks like."
A coalition of opposition groups is organizing a million-man march to take place on Tuesday, starting at 10 a.m. Opposition groups want to march from Tahrir, or Liberation Square, to the presidential palace, according to various reports, to force Mubarak to step down by Friday. They are also calling for a strike as banks, schools and the stock market remain shuttered for a second day.
Police are back out on the streets after virtually disappearing late Friday, leaving a vacuum in security that was filled by looters, vandals, and the release of prisoners from the country's jails.
Over the weekend, buildings were set on fire and clashes continued between protesters and the government.