Egyptian opposition defiant over VP’s warning
CAIRO (AP) — Egypt’s protesters and opposition groups were infuriated Wednesday by a warning from Vice President Omar Suleiman that if their movement doesn’t enter negotiations, a “coup” could take place causing greater chaos, as a mass demonstration in a central Cairo square entered its 16th day.
Suleiman’s sharply worded warning cast a shadow over his efforts, backed by the United States, to put together negotiations with the opposition over democratic reforms. The protesters fear the regime will manipulate the talks and conduct only superficial reforms, so they insist they will only enter substantive negotiations after President Hosni Mubarak steps down.
Thousands of protesters chanting “we are not leaving until he leaves” camped overnight in downtown Tahrir Square, the epicenter of their demonstrations, in tents made with plastic tarps and bed covers to protect them from chilly weather, sprawling out into sidestreets. Many have been sleeping underneath the tanks of soldiers surrounding the square to prevent the vehicles from moving or trying to clear the area for traffic.