Egypt prime minister says stability returning

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CAIRO, Feb 5 (AP):Egypt`s prime minister says stability is returning after 12 days of anti-government protests, appearing confident a resolution to the crisis can be reached without the immediate removal of President Hosni Mubarak.
The comments by Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq on state TV suggest the government may calculate it can ride out protests and reach a deal with its opponents without Mubarak`s ouster.
Protesters say they will continue their rallies until the 82-year-old president goes. Tens of thousands gathered in central Tahrir Square Saturday.
Shafiq said a 100,000-strong demonstration Friday failed to force Mubarak out as protesters hoped. “We haven`t been affected and God willing next Friday we won`t be affected,” he said. “All this leads to stability.”
Leaders of Egypt`s unprecedented wave of anti-government protests have held talks with the prime minister over ways to ease President Hosni Mubarak out of office. Under one proposal, the 82-year-old leader would hand his powers to his vice president, though not his title immediately, to give him a graceful exit.
Mubarak has staunchly refused to leave, insisting on serving out the rest of his term until September, and his aides have repeatedly said in recent days that the country`s leader of nearly 30 years must not be dumped in a humiliating way.
The protesters, in turn, say they will not stop their giant rallies or enter substantive negotiations on democratic reform until Mubarak quits. Thousands continued to gather Saturday.

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