6:08pm UK, Saturday February 05, 2011
'Top Figures In Egypt's Ruling Party Resign'
Key figures in Egypt's ruling party have stepped down, according to state television, as protesters continue to demand the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak.
Al Arabiya television retracted an initial report that Mr Mubarak had also quit as leader of the party.
But the party's secretary-general Safwat el-Sharif and Gamal Mubarak, Mr Mubarak's son, are said to have quit in a shake-up seen as a gesture to anti-government campaigners.
For 12 days they have been taking part in demonstrations in Cairo and other cities demanding that the embattled president resigns.
Protesters hurl rocks in Cairo on 'Departure Day' during minor street clashes
The 82-year-old, who has been in power for 30 years, has ignored calls to give up the presidency and has previously insisted he intends to serve out the remaining seven months of his term.
The popular uprising turned ugly earlier this week with violent street clashes between anti-government demonstrators and pro-Mubarak groups.
Earlier, state television reported opposition leaders were meeting with vice-president Omar Suleiman to discuss various proposals that would end in the leader's departure.
One option being considered by top officials would see Mr Mubarak remaining in office purely as a figurehead, with real power draining to the vice-presidency.
The latest development may be a sign that steps towards such a compromise are being taken behind closed doors - but it is questionable how much weight it might carry with protesters.
Many of those gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square have told Sky News they will only be happy if Mr Mubarak gives up his leadership completely.
Friday's "day of departure" saw more than 100,000 demonstrators gathering peacefully in the area.
The military have been appealing for protesters to leave the area by Sunday and have put up barricades to prevent others from joining in.
Army chiefs, who have been tolerant of the protests of recent days, are thought to be keen for some form of normality to return to the capital after banks and shops were forced to close for days.
The upheaval of recent days is estimated to have cost hundreds of millions of pounds and state TV reported Mr Mubarak had held talks with key members of his cabinet about how to revive the economy.
Exports from Egypt fell 6% in January due to the unrest, the government has said.
Britons continue to flee the country, with a second Foreign Office-chartered flight taking off today from Cairo to London's Gatwick Airport with up to 165 passengers on board.
Earlier, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Middle East leaders to embrace democratic reforms in response to growing unrest in the region.
She told an international security conference in Munich that there was a "perfect storm" which made democratic change a "strategic necessity".
US president Barack Obama has called for a "transition period that begins now".
Frank Wisner, Mr Obama's special envoy for Egypt, has told the conference in Munich that Mr Mubarak must stay in power for the time being to steer the political transition.
Dominic Asquith, British Ambassador to Cairo, said time must be given for talks between opposing groups.
He told Sky News: "To get this orderly transition, you will need to yield space for the dialogue that is going on, and you need to be able give the space also to what the president himself, President Mubarak, has been saying about the legitimate demands of the protesters, about new steps for democracy, the peaceful transfer of power."
:: Some 1,000 people gathered for a march to the Egyptian embassy in London on Saturday in a show of solidarity to the protesters.