Egyptian army won't use force to crush relentless protesters
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The Egyptian military has vowed not to use force to crush mass anti- government protests, acknowledging the people's demands as "legitimate". The news came as new Vice President revealed President Hosni Mubarak had tasked him with opening "immediate" dialogue with the opposition.
In a statement released as thousands of protesters again defied curfews in Cairo and Alexandria, the military said: "To the great people of Egypt, your armed forces, acknowledging the legitimate rights of the people ... have not used and will not use force.”
For a seventh day, protesters flooded Egypt’s streets, rejecting a new government under Mubarak in the biggest challenge ever to his three decades in power.
Angry marchers were unimpressed by Mubarak’s unveiling of a new cabinet, minus the unpopular Interior Minister Habib al-Adly.
Organisers announced an indefinite general strike and promised a "march of a million" in the capital on Tuesday, and in Alexandria, after a week of revolt in which at least 125 people have been killed and thousands more hurt.
Europe on Monday demanded "free and fair" elections in Egypt – which is seen as key to stability across the Middle East.
EU foreign ministers demanded Mubarak kickstart an "orderly transition" that stopped short of asking him to step down after 30 years in office.
The declaration from the EU's 27 ministers called for a step-by-step approach, starting with a broad-based interim government and culminating with a democratic vote.
Meanwhile Arab League chief Amr Mussa called for a peaceful transition "from an era to the other".
Mussa, a former Egyptian foreign minister, is highly popular in his home country and has been mooted as a possible successor to Mubarak.
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