Egypt Pres. Mubarak Blames Islamists for Chaos

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Speaking on Egyptian state television Sunday, President Hosni Mubarak blamed Islamists for the violence that has engulfed the countrywide demonstrations, alluding to the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest "opposition group."

Under Egyptian law, members of the Brotherhood may not be elected to parliament, but some have gained power by running as independents for the 508-member legislative body.

In his televised address, Mubarak tasked Ahmed Shafiq, his newly appointed prime minister, with implementing "economic policies that accord the highest concern to people's suffering."

Reading from a letter to Shafiq on the broadcast, Mubarak cited unemployment, inflation and subsidies as the three critical areas that must be remedied along with political reforms. 

"I require you to bring back confidence in our economy. I trust your ability to implement economic policies that accord the highest concern to people's suffering," he said.

"I stress that subsidy provisions in their different forms must not be tampered with and that your government just challenge all forms of corruption," he read.

"I also stress the need for moving seriously and effectively toward more political reforms, in the constitution and legislation, via extensive dialogue with the parties [that will allow] their wider participation," he said.

The Muslim Brotherhood appears to have endorsed Mohamed ElBaradei for president in a unity coalition without Mubarak. Members of the group have met with him, but ElBaradei has not yet said if he would welcome Islamists in his coalition.

Brotherhood spokesman Gamal Nasser said his group would not accept any government that includes Mubarak.

"I have been authorized - mandated - by the people who organized these demonstrations and many other parties to agree on a national unity government," Nasser told CNN.

U.S., Britain, Germany

Meanwhile, in weekend phone conversations with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Turkey Prime Minister Tayyip Recep Erdogan, Jordan's King Abdullah II, British Prime Minister David Cameron, and Saudi King Abdullah, President Barack Obama called for an "orderly transition" in Egypt.

"During his calls, the president reiterated his focus on opposing violence and calling for restraint; supporting universal rights, including the right to peaceful assembly, association and speech; and supporting an orderly transition to a government that is responsive to the aspirations fo the Egyptian people," the White House stated.

A spokesman for Cameron said he and President Obama agreed that "Egypt now needed a comprehensive process of political reform, with an orderly Egyptian-led transition leading to a government that responded to the grievances of the Egyptian people and to their aspirations for a democratic future."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel also spoke with Mubarak on Sunday, asking him to implement the political reforms he spoke of, including freedom of information and the people's right to freely assemble. Merkel admonished Mubarak to respond to the youth of the country and promote dialogue with its citizens.
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AP and Reuters contributed to this report.

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