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Egypt army admits 'legitimacy' of demands

January 31, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Egypt's military said on Monday that it recognizes the "legitimacy of the people's demands" and promised to guarantee freedom of expression ahead of a planned escalation of protests.

President Hosni Mubarak has installed a new government, but it did little to calm the tensions on the streets of Cairo.

In the most significant change, the interior minister - who heads internal security forces - was replaced. A retired police general, Mahmoud Wagdi, was named to replace Habib el-Adly, who is widely despised by protesters.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs dismissed Mubarak's move to appoint a new government, saying the situation in Egypt calls for action, not appointments.

Demonstrators continued to ignore scheduled curfews, even though police are back on patrol. In Liberation Square, more tanks and foot soldiers were seen.

White House calls for free and fair elections

The White House is calling for free and fair elections in Egypt, but refusing to say whether the U.S. believes Mubarak should run in those contests.

The U.S. is in a tough situation diplomatically because Mubarak has been an ally and one of the few leaders willing to negotiate with Israel.

"What happens is truly up to the Egyptian people and what the United States is doing is sending a very clear message; we wish to see everyone refrain from violence," said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The U.S. is pressing Mubarak to institute a set of reforms as a first step toward meeting the demands of protesters clamoring for his ouster. The immediate gestures are for Mubarak to lift emergency laws in place since 1981, allow non-governmental organizations to operate and free political prisoners.

U.S. works to evacuate Americans from Egypt

The U.S. State Department is working to evacuate U.S. citizens from Egypt.

About1,400 Americans are expected to be flown out of Egypt in the coming days after the evacuation of more than 1,200 already, according to the State Department. More flights are scheduled.

There are more than 50,000 Americans currently living in Egypt. The State Department said it could take several days to accommodate everyone who wants to leave. Airports in Egypt are packed. Many of the crewmembers simply didn't show up to work and some of the commercial flights were delayed or canceled.

"You cannot get away by water. You cannot take public transportation, because it's been deemed unsafe, and you cannot fly," said Laura Murphy Lee, an American who is in Egypt.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.