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Egypt's vice president blames violence on 'foreign influences'

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Egypt's vice president blames violence on 'foreign influences'

Egyptian Vice President Oman Suleiman pledged Thursday on state TV to punish those involved in violence during the past 10 days across Egypt, blaming "foreign influences."

Suleiman also rejected demands for President Hosni Mubarak's resignation, saying it would be "a call to chaos" and referring to Mubarak as "father and leader" to the nation.

In a 45-minute interview on Egyptian TV, filled with what an analysts on Al Jazeera's English service described as "dog whistles" to incite violence against protesters, Suleiman said: "We will look into [the violence], into the fact it was a conspiracy." 

However, he said the demands of the youth of the January 25 movement were legitimate and acceptable, and he said that they had been examined by the Mubarak government.

"The youth have to be aware that all their demands have been answered," he said, calling on the protesters to end their 10-day demonstration. "End your sit-in. Your demands have been answered." 

He vowed to release any youths who had been detained but found not to have been involved in violence.

At least 13 people have been killed in clashes in Tahrir Square, in central Cairo, as violence continues between pro-government groups and pro-democracy protesters.

The protests, Suleiman said, were orchestrated by foreign operatives with their own agendas whose objective was to create instability, intimidation and rift between Egyptians. 

According to The Guardian, Suleiman's approach was predicted by the novelist Ahdaf Soueif: "Their next trick will be to say that the young people in Tahrir are 'foreign' elements, that they have connections to 'terrorism,' that they've visited Afghanistan, that they want to destabilize Egypt. But by now the whole world knows that this regime lies as naturally as it breathes."

Meanwhile, Suleiman said that constitutional amendments would be made to allow more reform, but that it would take at least 70 days and that parliament needed to convene to consider options. 

"The January 25 movement wanted to dissolve the parliament but we can't do that if we are going to amend the constitution," he said, Al Jazeera reported. "We have to look into the future of Egypt, who will run this country, who will lead Egypt in the next six years, who will represent the country?"

Suleiman — who was appointed by Mubarak as his first response to demands for his own ouster —  urged Egyptians to trust Mubarak. 

"I have served with President Mubarak for many years and I know that he is an honest man. He is a committed man," Suleiman said, adding that Egyptians "all respect Mubarak as father and leader." 

Besides, he said, a resignation by Mubarak would be a "very alien philosophy to the ideology of the people," he says. "We all respect the leader, Hosni Mubarak, and what he has offered the country over the past 30 years and the service he has rendered."

"To step down would be a call to chaos," he says.

Meanwhile, he said the government had entered into dialogue with opposition groups, despite saying Wednesday that anti-government protests needed to stop before dialogue could begin.

He said the government had contacted all parties, including Wafd Party, and several had agreed that the Muslim Brotherhood had been invited to join in dialogue.

Suleiman also said Thursday that Gamal Mubarak, the president's 46-year-old son, would not run for the presidency, a post for which Egyptians have long assumed he was being groomed despite public opposition.

The younger Mubarak's chances of assuming the presidency appeared to diminish greatly when his father appointed Suleiman vice president last week, but the vice president's announcement was the first official indication that he would not run.

Suleiman made the comments amid violent clashes in central Cairo between pro-and anti-government demonstrators that left at least one dead and hundreds injured.

He said those found responsible for any deaths in Tahrir Square on Wednesday night would be held accountable. He said the authorities would identify those who used horses and camels to try and break up protests in Tahrir Square.

Suleiman, the former head of intelligence, also urged demonstrators to respect an earlier call from the Egyptian army and return to their homes.

His comments came after Barack Obama, the U.S. president, led world leaders in calling for an "orderly transition of power" to begin immediately but the Egyptian foreign ministry rejected such calls saying the comments "sought to inflame the internal situation in Egypt."

Suleiman's interview comes after Ahmad Shafiq, the Egyptian prime minister, apologized for the violence in Tahrir square.

Like Suleiman, Shafiq also said calls for Mubarak to step down were "unacceptable." 

This article originally appeared on GlobalPost.

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