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President Hosni Mubarak toured Aswan Province in Upper Egypt last Wednesday and made conciliatory comments about the rights of the Nubian people. In a television interview, he said he had issued directives to his government to support the Nubians and remove obstacles against them.

He said that the plans his government had formed to resettle Nubians did not represent any ill will toward them. Nubian opposition to government resettlement schemes has been growing. “Their demands and requests should be met because they are part and parcel of the Egyptian national fabric,” the president said.

Nubian protesters are demanding that the government build new villages for them in locations right along the Nile, in contrast to the plans for resettlement formulated by the governor of Aswan. During the tour, the president ordered his government to build new villages for the Nubians after coordinating the locations with them. The conciliatory spirit that President Obama displayed during his Cairo speech the previous Thursday may have had a ripple effect on Egyptian politics.

Mubarak said he would promote development for the Nubian people, a reaction to the criticism that his government has received about their lack of care for the minority group. His statements represent the first time a top Egyptian government official has acknowledged the Nubian position, that their culture depends on them living in villages next to the river.