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Last Updated: Monday, 17 March 2008, 14:23 GMT
Egypt army to tackle bread crisis
Bread queue in Cairo
President Mubarak said all bread queues must be eliminated
Egypt's president has ordered the army to increase the production and distribution of bread, in an attempt to cope with serious shortages.

Rising prices and alleged corruption have sparked recent clashes at bakeries in poorer neighbourhoods, leading to several deaths.

Hosni Mubarak said eradicating bread queues was "imperative".

The army and interior ministry control numerous bakeries normally used to supply bread for troops and police.

Mr Mubarak issued his order to the army at a meeting of cabinet ministers on Sunday that was called to address the growing crisis, his spokesman said.

"Bread should be provided to the citizens and the lines should disappear," Suleiman Awwad quoted Mr Mubarak as saying.

The price of wheat has more than tripled on international markets since last summer.

Mr Mubarak has ordered the government to use some foreign reserves to buy additional wheat from the international market, the spokesman said.

Many of Egypt's 70m population, about half of whom live below the poverty line, survive on subsidised bread.

Unsubsidised bread is 10-12 times more expensive than the subsidised five-piaster loafs (less that $0.01).

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