What Comes After Mubarak - Military Rule, Islamist Surge Or Reform-Minded Coalition

by
Reuters
A million people, maybe more, rallied across Egypt on Tuesday, clamoring for President Hosni Mubarak to give up power, piling pressure on a leader who has towered over Middle East politics for 30 years to make way.

A million people, maybe more, rallied across Egypt on Tuesday, clamoring for President Hosni Mubarak to give up power, piling pressure on a leader who has towered over Middle East politics for 30 years to make way.

Al Arabiya television said the 82-year-old former general was about announce on television that he would not seek re-election in a ballot scheduled for September but would stay in office until then to respond to demands for reform.

That will not satisfy many of those on the streets who want Mubarak and his ruling party to step aside immediately.

Cairo's Tahrir (Liberation) Square was jammed with people ranging from lawyers and doctors to students and jobless poor, the crowd spilling into surrounding streets.

"He goes, we are not going," chanted a crowd of men, women and children as a military helicopter hovered over the sea of people in the square, many waving Egyptian flags and banners.

Crowds also demonstrated in Alexandria, Suez and in the Nile Delta in the eighth and biggest day of protests against Mubarak by people fed up with years of repression, corruption and economic hardship.

With the army refusing to take action against the people and support from long-time backer the United States fading, the aging strongman's days seemed numbered.

His downfall after three decades could reconfigure the geopolitical map of the Middle East, with implications from Israel to oil-giant Saudi Arabia. Unrest is already stirring in other Arab countries such as Jordan and Yemen.

King Abdullah of Jordan replaced his prime minister on Tuesday following protests, but the opposition dismissed the move as insufficient.

Egypt's opposition, embracing the banned Islamist group the Muslim Brotherhood, Christians, intellectuals and others, began to coalesce around the figure of Mohamed ElBaradei, a Nobel Peace laureate for his work as head of the U.N. nuclear agency

ElBaradei said on Tuesday Mubarak must leave Egypt before the reformist opposition would start talks with the government on the future of the Arab world's most populous nation.

"There can be dialogue but it has to come after the demands of the people are met and the first of those is that President Mubarak leaves," he told Al Arabiya television.

Gauging the numbers of protesters was difficult but Reuters reporters estimated it had hit the million mark that activists had called for.

"Mubarak wake up, today is the last day," they shouted in Alexandria.

Reuters