The leadership of Egypt's ruling National Democratic Party resigned on Saturday, including Gamal Mubarak, the son of President Hosni Mubarak whose rule has been shaken by days of protests, state television said.
Protesters and members of the opposition dismissed the move, saying it would not distract them from their core demand that Mubarak step down from the presidency. The Muslim Brotherhood said the move was aimed to "choke the revolution".
An official in the U.S. administration, which has called for an orderly transition of power in Egypt, said reports that Gamal had quit his leadership position, was a positive step, adding that the administration looked forward to further steps.
Al Arabiya television had initially said Mubarak resigned as head of the ruling party, but later retracted the report.
State television named the new secretary-general as Hossam Badrawi, seen as a member of the liberal wing of the party.
"(The resignation) is very important politically because this party was exploiting the state for the interests of the party, and that has caused a lot of criticism," said analyst Diaa Rashwan.
Protesters who have rocked Egypt's political system have complained about corruption, poverty and political repression that left power in the hands of Mubarak and his allies.
"Practically, it is important because the people using violence were being mobilised by the party ... and now they have been stripped of this protection and they won't feel secure that they have a party behind them," Rashwan said.
The outgoing leaders include secretary general Safwat el-Sherif, 77, who has been powerful in the Egyptian establishment since the 1960s and is a pillar of the old guard. Sherif is also speaker of the upper house of parliament.
Without a place in the leadership, Gamal Mubarak would no longer qualify as the party's presidential candidate under the existing constitution.
Muslim Brotherhood member Mohammed Habib said the move was "an attempt to improve the image of the party but it does not dispense with the real aim of the revolution: bringing down the regime, starting with the resignation of President Mubarak."
"It is an attempt to choke the revolution and gain time," said Habib who is a leading member of the party.
Echoing that position, Bilal Fathi, 22, a member of the protest movement, said: "These are not gains for the protesters. This is a trick by the regime. This is not fulfilling our demands. These are red herrings."
The outgoing leadership makes up the five-man core committee in the party. The other members are Zakaria Azmi, Mubarak's chief of staff, NDP spokesman Ali el-Din Hilal and steel magnate Ahmed Ezz, who had already resigned a few days after the outbreak of the popular uprising against Mubarak.
The party was one of the main targets of the uprising and its headquarters near Tahrir Square was gutted by fire during the protests.
Last Mod: 06 Şubat 2011, 16:34