INTRODUCTION: In Egypt, President Anwar Sadat had talks with top advisers in "Cairo on Saturday (22 January) about the bloody food riots which are reported to have claimed at least 79 lives during the week.
INTRODUCTION: In Egypt, President Anwar Sadat had talks with top advisers in "Cairo on Saturday (22 January) about the bloody food riots which are reported to have claimed at least 79 lives during the week. The riots, which the government has blamed on a communist plot, were started by price increases on basis food items such as rice, flour, sugar and domestic gas.
A delegation from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was in Cairo throughout the disturbances. Reuters news agency in Cairo reports that observers believe the price increases may have been timed for the visit to try to persuade the IMF that Egypt is serious about correcting its economic situation. The increases were believed to be part of a deal with the IMF in advance of a conference with prospective suppliers of loans to Egypt. The head of the IMF fund's Middle East operations, Mr. John Gunter, had talks with Egypt's Finance Minister , Salah Hamed, during Saturday.
SYNOPSIS: President Sadat suspended the increases after the riots, but in Saturday's meeting at his residence at Giza near Cairo, the President also discussed Egypt's grave economic plight which the price increases had been designed to help. The increases were in fact a withdrawal of government subsidies for the poor. Vice President Hosni Mubarek, Premir Mamdouh Salem and other top government officials were at the talks, which lasted five hours.
Security forces have arrested more than 1.100 people since the troubles -- among them leftist journalists, student leaders, lawyers and teachers.
After the riots the government also clamped a curfew on all main cities, and ordered the army to shoot demonstrators on sight, but the curfew lifted during Saturday.
Egypt's semi-official Al Ahram newspaper has said a clandestine organisation called 'the Communist Labour Party' planned to burn down Cairo, but leftists won only three seats in the last general election-- suggesting little support for the Communists.