Saleh press conference 311 AP.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Authorities in Egypt on Thursday arrested the country’s former information
minister and the chairman of state TV and radio on corruption allegations, the
latest moves by the country’s ruling military against senior officials of Hosni
Mubarak’s ousted regime, security officials said.
The officials also
mentioned two former cabinet ministers and a one-time top official of Mubarak’s
political party, and said all would face trial.
Thursday’s arrests of
Anas al-Fiqqi, the ex-information minister, and Osama el-Sheikh, the state TV
boss, were widely expected. Al-Fiqqi was placed under house arrest earlier this
month and el-Sheikh was banned from traveling abroad Wednesday – steps that
often precede a criminal investigation or a trial.
Al-Fiqqi was a
confidant of Mubarak and his powerful son Gamal. Under al-Fiqqi’s and el-
Sheikh’s stewardship, state TV persistently discredited the young organizers of
the 18-day uprising that forced Mubarak to hand power to the military after
nearly 30 years of authoritarian rule.
The day before, Egyptian Foreign
Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit confirmed that there had been an attempted
assassination against Omar Suleiman, who briefly served as vice president during
Mubarak’s last days.
Aboul Gheit said in an interview with Egyptian
television that the assassination attempt occurred a few weeks ago when
Suleiman’s car came under fire by an approaching ambulance.
Suleiman’s bodyguards was killed in the gunfight.
In Yemen, President Ali
Abdullah Saleh ordered his forces to offer “full protection” to anti-regime
protesters and loyalists alike, after 15 people died in an uprising against his
rule. Thursday’s move came as 28 members of parliament from his General People’s
Congress (GPC) urged him to implement a 10-point reform plan, and the number of
lawmakers who resigned from the party rose to 11.
Saleh instructed “all
security services to thwart all clashes and prevent direct confrontation between
pro- and anti-government protesters,” read a statement published by the state
news agency Saba.
It demanded that security services grant “full
protection” to all demonstrators and urged protesters to “remain vigilant”
against infiltrators seeking to ignite violence.
protesters were killed on Wednesday when supporters of Saleh opened fire on a
sit-in in Sanaa, bringing to at least 15 the number of deaths in a crackdown on
the revolt since February 16.
Elsewhere, a spokeswoman for the government
of Bahrain said a prominent opposition leader would not be arrested if he
returned to the country, but it remained unclear whether he was free to
The spokeswoman said authorities had no plans to take Hassan
Meshaima into custody if he returned from self-exile.
officials in Lebanon said they had confiscated Meshaima’s passport on an
Interpol warrant. It is unclear whether Bahrain will take steps to lift
Meshaima arrived in Beirut on Tuesday en route to Bahrain, where
protests by the Shi’ite majority against the Gulf kingdom’s Sunni rulers broke
out last week.
Meshaima, head of a Shi’ite group known as Haq, is
considered more hard-line than the main Shi’ite political bloc that has taken a
lead among the protesters.
The opposition currently appears divided on
whether to demand an end to the Sunni monarchy or offer a chance to remain in
exchange for granting powers to the elected parliament.
said the government had a declared Friday a day of mourning for seven
demonstrators killed in clashes with security forces.
Saudi Arabia, intellectuals asked the kingdom’s monarch to adopt far-reaching
political and social reforms.
They said in a statement that Arab rulers
should derive a lesson from the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, and
listen to the voice of disenchanted young people. The group includes renowned
Islamic scholars, a female academic, a poet and a former diplomat.
call for change came after Saudi Arabia’s 86-year-old King Abdullah announced an
unprecedented economic aid package, including interest-free home loans. The
package, estimated at 135 billion Saudi riyals ($36 billion), was seen as an
attempt to get ahead of potential unrest.