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Hosni Mubarak quit leadership of ruling party: report

Cairo: Embattled President Hosni Mubarak and his son Gamal today quit the leadership of Egypt`s ruling party in a new gesture to convince anti-government protesters that the regime is serious about political reform.

State TV said the top leadership body of Egypt`s ruling party, including party secretary-general Safwat el-Sharif, resigned.

Protesters have shrugged off other concessions by the regime in the past 12 days of unprecedented street demonstrations, saying they will settle for nothing less than the immediate ouster of the embattled president who has ruled for nearly 30 years.

According to state TV, the ruling party`s six-member Steering Committee of the General Secretariat stepped down and was replaced. The council was the party`s highest decision-making body, and el-Sharif and other outgoing members were some of the most powerful.

El-Sharif has been replaced by Hossam Badrawi, a party figure who had been sidelined within its ranks.

Gamal Mubarak, a member of the Steering Committee, has been seen as being groomed by his father to succeed him as president.

Omar Suleiman, the Vice President promised last week that Gamal would not run for president in elections due in September.

Uncertainty and tension gripped Egypt with international clamour growing on beleaguered President to hand over power immediately as saboteurs blew up a key gas pipeline to Israel adding a fresh dimension to the 12-day old crisis in the Arab nation.

As unprecedented protests raged at the famous Tahrir Square in central Cairo, the state TV reported "dangerous explosions continuing from one spot to another" in the main source of gas supplying pipeline in El Arish.

With no let up in protests fury, President Mubarak, who appeared increasingly cornered, held a meeting of his new cabinet to revive the economy and project calm in the face of the increasing turmoil.

The meeting was attended by Egypt`s new Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq as well as the central bank governor and the ministers of petroleum, social solidarity, trade and industry, and finance.

The top executive of the ruling National Democratic Party, which includes the embattled president`s son Gamal Mubarak who is head of the powerful policies committee, resigned on masse on day 12 of mass protests against his regime, state television said.

"The members of the executive committee resigned from their posts," it said.

It said Badrawi, prominent physician who is reputed to have good relations with opposition figures, would take over as NDP secretary general and political bureau chief.

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