Pressure mounts on Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak to step down

04 February 2011 15:41  [Source: ICIS news]

Pressure grows on Mubarak to quitLONDON (ICIS)--Pressure is mounting on Egypt’s president, Hosni Mubarak, to step down as thousands of anti-government demonstrators continued protesting on Friday in what they billed as a "day of departure".

Protests in Cairo and other Egyptian cities were expected to grow in size and intensity. There was an increased military presence in the capital after clashes over the last two days between pro and anti-government factions.

There have also been reports that protestors were preparing to march on the presidential palace.

EU leaders have warned Egyptian authorities against a breakout of violence during Friday’s protests. At an EU summit, leaders also put pressure on Mubarak to meet the aspirations of the people and called for transition to democracy.

Meanwhile, the US government has been in discussions with top Egyptian officials about the possibility of Mubarak resigning immediately, and the formation of a military-backed caretaker government.

It was hoped the talks could prepare Egypt for free and fair elections later this year and the creation of an interim government was one of several possibilities under discussion.

The political unrest has continued to disrupt chemical markets. Crude oil hit as high as $103/bbl on Thursday over concerns that supply could be disrupted.

There were also continuing fears over the security of the Suez Canal, although there has been no disruption so far. On Friday late morning, Brent crude was at $101.96/bbl.

In addition, a number of chemical plants in Egypt have been forced to shut down and stop operations altogether.

Additional reporting by Mark Victory, Sarah Trinder and Nel Weddle

($1 = €0.73, €1 = £0.84)

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By: Franco Capaldo
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