Egypt’s Mubarak names vice president for first time; Cairo still in chaos

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Before word that Mubarak had picked his first vice president, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said the U.S. wanted to see Mubarak fulfill his pledges of reform as protests swept the country.

“The Egyptian government can’t reshuffle the deck and then stand pat,” Crowley said on his Twitter account. “President Mubarak’s words pledging reform must be followed by action.”

The crackdown on protesters has drawn harsh criticism from the Obama administration and even a threat Friday to reduce a $1.5 billion foreign aid program if Washington’s most important Arab ally escalates the use of force.

As the army presence expanded in Cairo Saturday, police largely disappeared from the streets — possibly because their presence fueled violence with the public. Egyptian police are hated for their brutality.

On Friday, 17 police stations throughout Cairo were torched, with protesters stealing firearms and ammunition and setting some jailed suspects free. They also burned dozens of police trucks in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez. On Saturday, protesters besieged a police station in the Giza neighborhood of Cairo, looted and pulled down Egyptian flags before burning the building to the ground.

But there have been no clashes reported between protesters and the military at all and many feel the army is with them and they show the soldiers affection.

One army captain joined the demonstrators in Tahrir Square, who hoisted him on their shoulders while chanting slogans against Mubarak. The officer ripped a picture of the president.

“We don’t want him! We will go after him!” demonstrators shouted. They decried looting and sabotage, saying: “Those who love Egypt should not sabotage Egypt!”

Some 200 inmates escaped a jail on the outskirts of the city, starting a fire first to cover their breakout. Eight inmates were killed during the escape.

On Saturday, feelings of joy mixed with frustration in Cairo. Protesters were jubilant that they managed to sustain the momentum for five days and frustrated over the looting and Mubarak’s refusal to step down.

“This is the revolution of people of all walks of life,” read black graffiti scrolled on one army tank in Tahrir Square. “Mubarak, take your son and leave,” it said.

“To hell with Mubarak; We don’t serve individuals. We serve this country that we love, just like you,” yelled another soldier to protesters from atop a tank scrawled with graffiti that said: “Down with Mubarak!”

Like Mubarak, Suleiman has a military background. The powerful military has provided Egypt with its four presidents since the monarchy was toppled nearly 60 years ago. He has been in charge of some of Egypt’s most sensitive foreign policy issues, including the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.

Suleiman, additionally, is widely seen as a central regime figure, a position that protesters were likely to view negatively.

Mubarak also named his new prime minister Ahmed Shafiq, the outgoing civil aviation minister and fellow former air force officer.

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