Protests Continue in Egypt, Investigation Into Afghan Bank Shows Massive Fraud

BY News Desk  January 31, 2011 at 7:52 AM EDT

A week after protesters first converged on downtown Cairo, tens of thousands continue to march and call on President Hosni Mubarak to step down after 30 years in office. Mubarak’s televised announcement after midnight Saturday did little to placate the crowds, who are out despite a curfew and strong police and military presence in Tahrir Square.

Both President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have called for an “orderly transition” to a more democratic government in Egypt ahead of scheduled elections in September. The United States has provided military aid to Egypt, an ally in the region.

Mohamed ElBaradei, former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency and a Nobel laureate, returned to Egypt and has become a prominent figure in the protests.

The State Department has been evacuating U.S. citizens from the country, and there have been long lines at the Cairo airport filled with foreigners.

(Read more on the protests here).

Employees Flee to Pakistan in Face of Kabul Bank Investigation

The chief financial officer and other employees of Kabul Bank have fled to Pakistan, facing an investigation over misuse of funds in Afghanistan’s largest bank. Some have been detained in Afghanistan pending the results of the inquiry into how the funds were used, including to bribe members of the government.

Mahmoud Karzai, brother of President Hamid Karzai, was among those allowed to leave the country. He and others have been accused of taking out large loans for personal use. Mahmous Karzai was a 7 percent stakeholder in the bank.

In September, the bank nearly collapsed, prompting the official investigation. Depositors demanded more than $800 million, necessitating a government intervention to prevent the bank from collapse.

Clinton Travels to Haiti, Supports Election Report

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton traveled to Haiti Sunday and met with the three presidential candidates challenging incumbent president Rene Preval. She expressed support for a report by the Organization of American States that found the elections, while tainted with fraud, could be salvaged in the second round.

Her visit comes at a time of uncertainty over Haiti’s political situation, amid calls for cancellation of the ballot and controversy over international involvement.

Clinton met with cholera patients and visited a treatment plant to observe progress on treating the disease, which has killed an estimated 4,000 Haitians in recent months.

Protests in Sudan Leave One Dead

A student in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, died after being beaten by police during demonstrations against the government over the weekend. University students were beaten and tear gassed.

A Facebook group calling itself “Youth for Change” called the student, Mohamed Abdelrahman, a “martyr.” The group has 16,000 members and is calling on President Omar Hassan al-Bashir to step down.

Police forces have reportedly surrounded six of Khartoum’s universities to prevent further demonstrations. The protests mirror larger-scale demonstrations in neighboring Egypt.

Nelson Mandela Recuperating from Respiratory Infection

Former South African president Nelson Mandela, 92, is recuperating after a brief hospitalization last week for a respiratory infection. His doctors say he is responding well to medication and being monitored 24 hours a day.

Reports of his hospitalization sparked widespread concern that he was ailing. He has not made public appearances since the 2010 World Cup, but recently released a new memoir, “Conversations with Myself.”

The anti-apartheid figure spent 27 years imprisoned on Robben Island, off the coast of Cape Town.