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Mubarak has first meeting with new cabinet amid continued calls to step down

by Jorge Hernandez on February 7, 2011

Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak met for the first time with his newly appointed cabinet on Monday, though protests in Tahrir Square continued into their third week, maintaining that the embattled leader step down immediately.

The state-run news agency reported that Mubarak met with the newly appointed Vice President Omar Suleiman, Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq and the ministers of petroleum, trade, finance, social solidarity and the head of the central bank.

The New York Times reports that shops and banks had begun to re-open and that the stock market is due to resume activity by Sunday.

According to The Los Angeles Times, "some signs of freedom were becoming apparent for the large number of protesters detained over the past two weeks."

Former Interior Minister Habib al-Adly, one of the most controversial figures of Mubarak's previous government, was replaced by Mahmud Wagdi, the news source reports.

Other concessions included the release of Google executive Wael Ghonim, who Amnesty International members and eyewitnesses said was arrested for joining the Cairo protests. Ghonim had tweeted shortly before being detained that he was "brutally beaten up by police people" and that he was "very worried as it seems that government is planning a war crime tomorrow against people. We are all ready to die."

Meanwhile, protesters in Cairo have not ceased in their cries for Mubarak to step down entirely and are calling for freedom of press, the repeal of emergency military laws and the end of violent tactics used by the pro-government opposition, The Los Angeles Times reports.

Mubarak has previously stated that he would like to quit his post, but that he feared the chaos that would ensue in his absence.

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