Top Arab cleric asks Mubarak to quit

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Dubai, Jan 29 (PTI) An influential Arab cleric Yusufal-Qaradawi today urged President Hosni Mubarak to step downas the embattled Egyptian leader appointed his intelligencechief and confidante Omar Suleiman as the vice president tostem the anti-government mass protest.

"President Mubarak ... I advise you to depart fromEgypt ... There is no other solution to this problem but forMubarak to go," Qaradawi was quoted as saying by theAl-Jazeera television.

The widely respected Sunni Muslim cleric asked82-year-old Mubarak to quit for the good of the country, ashis ouster was the only solution to Egypt''s crisis.

"Go Mubarak, have mercy on this people and leave so asnot to increase the destruction of Egypt," said Qaradawi, aspiritual leader of Egypt''s Muslim Brotherhood.

"There is no staying longer, Mubarak, I advise you (tolearn) the lesson of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali," he said,referring to Tunisia''s deposed president who fled to SaudiArabia.

Buckling under mounting pressure, the embattledEgyptian President, who has not picked a vice president sincehis took office in 1981, today appointed Suleiman to the toppost as tens of thousands of agitated people snubbed hispromised reforms and took their deadly revolt to the streetsfor a fifth day.

Tens of thousands of angry citizens streamed intocentral Cairo''s Tahrir Square, one of the focal points forstreet battles that have raged around Egypt, chanting:"Mubarak out!" as troops looked on.

Mubarak refused to bow to mounting pressure to quitbut sacked his Cabinet which later resigned, as death tollrose above 50 in the nationwide demonstrations and clasheswith police.

Egyptian state television said that the Mubarak Cabinethas officially resigned after days of protests, hours afterthe President fired his Cabinet promising democratic andeconomic reform.

"I have asked the government to present its resignationand tomorrow there will be a new government," Mubarak said inhis first response to the unrest against his ironfisted rule.

The Army warned the people to obey a curfew and torefrain from congregating in public places, according to astatement carried by the official MENA agency.

Earlier, US President Barack Obama called on theEgyptian authorities not to use violence against the politicalprotests, driving home his message in a 30-minute phone callwith Mubarak.

He urged Mubarak to take "concrete" steps towardspolitical reforms, saying he must turn "a moment ofvolatility" into "a moment of promise."

Washington has toughened its line on a key MiddleEastern ally, warning Egypt it would review billions ofdollars in aid based on the behaviour of its security forces.

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