Hosni Mubarak Doesn't Resign, Cairo's Tahrir Square Erupts With Anger

President Hosni Mubarak will meet the demands of protesters, military and ruling party officials said Thursday in the strongest indication yet that Egypt's longtime president may be about to give up power and that the armed forces were seizing control. Gen. Hassan al-Roueini, military commander for the Cairo area, told thousands of protesters in central Tahrir Square,

Update: 00:10 GMT

Mubarak Stays, Egypt Erupts In Rage

Hosni Mubarak disappointed and enraged pro-democracy protesters when he did not announce he would quit as many expected. Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, provoked rage on the country's streets when he said he would hand some powers to his deputy, but disappointed protesters who had been expecting him to announce his resignation all together after more than two weeks of unrest.

"Leave! Leave!" chanted thousands who had gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Thursday in anticipation that a televised speech would be the moment their demands for an end to Mubarak's 30 years of authoritarian, one-man rule were met.

Instead, the 82-year-old former general portrayed himself as a patriot overseeing an orderly transition until elections in September, when his current term ends.

The hush that had swept over the crowd in Tahrir Square at the start of Mubarak's speech turned into an angry roar halfway through Mubarak's speech, as it became clear that the defiant president would not be stepping down.
Mubarak Stays, Egypt Erupts In Rage
Al Jazeera's Aymen Mohyeldin, reporting from Cairo, said that the speech was received as "patronising" as he referred to Egyptians as his children, and he only re-enforced the idea that he is "entrenched in the notion that he will hold on to power".

Mubarak  praised the young people who have stunned the Arab world with unprecedented demonstrations, offering constitutional change and a bigger role for vice-president Omar Suleiman.

Rabab Al Mahdi, a professor at the American University in Cairo, told Al Jazeera that the  "level of anger and frustration at the square is unprecedented".

"This is putting us into a messy situation that can turn bloody at any moment," she said, adding that the fact that Mubarak "started a speech for more than 10 minutes, he was talking about himself - very narcissistic, again, giving the message that he's still in control, and this, in and by itself, offended people."


Update: 00:10 GMT

Opposition Leader Mohammed ElBaradei on Twitter

Mohamed ElBaradei, whom many regard as the leading opposition figure in Egypt, has taken to Twitter to denounce President Hosni Mubarak's speech:

Opposition Leader Mohammed ElBaradei on Twitter

Update: 00:00 GMT

Egypt Ambassador to U.S. Says VP Suleiman is De Facto Head of State

President Hosni Mubarak has transfered all effective powers of the presidency to Vice President Omar Suleiman, making Suleiman the de-facto president of Egypt, the Egyptian Ambassador to the United States said.

"The president did indicate very clearly he was transferring all his presidential authority to the vice president," Sameh Shoukry told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "President Mubarak has transferred the powers of the presidency to his vice president, who will now undertake all authority as president."

That makes Suleiman the head of the military, according to Shoukry, attributing the information to the Egyptian government.


Update: 23:30 GMT

President Obama to Meet With National Security Team

Obama watched Mubarak's speech on Air Force One. On his return to the White House, he will be meeting with his national security team, a memo to the White House pool of reporters said.


Update: 23:15 GMT

Mubarak Speech Surprises U.S.

U.S. sources closely involved in the government's handling of the Egyptian crisis old NBC News that they were "taken by

surprise" by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's announcement and that it appears "Mubarak is going nowhere."

The officials told NBCs Jim Miklaszewski that they were especially concerned about Mubarak's statement apparent declaration that

he would "federalize the streets." They said, however, that their reaction was based on an initial translation of Mubarak's

remarks.

"We have assurances, both private and public that the military would not fire on the people," one of the officials stressed.


Update: 23:05 GMT

Angry Crowd at Square Chants 'Leave, Leave!' During Mubarak Speech

Anticipation switched to anger for thousands of Egyptians who had packed Tahrir Square in hopes that President Hosni Mubarak would step down immediately, rather than stay on and delegate powers to the vice president, as he stated in a national address late Thursday.

Mubarak's defiant remarks about foreign intervention and his determination to see the transition through was not what most in the crowd wanted to hear.

"Get out! Get out!" many chanted.

One protester told CNN that Mubarak is calling for more rage in the country by digging in.

"We don't trust him anymore," said another, calling for the removal of government "gangsters."

Vice President Omar Suleiman told the protesters to go home and back to work. He referred to the past two weeks as the "revolution of the young people."

"I call on all the citizens to look to the future," Suleiman said. "In our hands we can make a very bright future and be full of freedom and democracy."

After the speeches, many in the crowd walked toward state TV, according to CNN's Ben Wedeman.

There had been a festival feeling in the square preceding Mubarak's speech, with vendors selling food and tea. Many waved Egyptian flags and chanted.


 Update: 22:50 GMT

Hosni Mubarak Doesn't Resign, Cairo's Tahrir Square Erupts With Anger

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said he has transferred many powers to his newly minted vice president Omar Suleiman, but he enraged crowds gathered in Tahrir Square hoping to hear the embattled president say he was stepping down.

The crowd of hundreds of thousands of people gathered in Tahrir Square hoping to hear Mubarak say he was stepping down went silent as Mubarak took to the camera. But towards the end of the speech, when it became evident that the president wasn't resigning, the crowd erupted into a roar and began angrily chanting, "Leave now, leave now, leave now."

Thousands of protesters are planning to take to the streets once again on Friday to continue calling for Mubarak's ouster.

Shortly after Mubarak spoke, the supreme commander of the army sent a text message that went to nearly every cell phone in Egypt saying the military would have an important statement later tonight.

Mubarak's defiant speech -- in which he reiterated several times that he won't let foreign powers intervene in Egypt's affairs -- was widely denounced by the thousands of protesters gathered in Cairo and across the country.

In an address directed to the youth of Egypt, Mubarak said he was pained about the deaths that have occurred since protests began on Jan. 25, saying that the blood of the victims will not go in vain.

The "blood of your martyrs will not be wasted," he said. "I will not be easy in punishing the people who have caused these injuries and I will hold accountable all the people who committed crimes against you."

The United Nations and Human Rights Watch estimates that 300 people have been killed in Egypt's protests.

Mubarak also announced the formation of a committee that will study amendments to the Constitution, and said discussions were being held to lift the emergency law when the security situation permits. Egypt's controversial emergency laws have been in place since 1967 and give the government far-reaching powers at the expense of judicial review and civil liberties.

The 82-year-old president appeared to rebuff the Obama administration's urgings that Mubarak heed protesters' demands, saying several times he won't "listen to any foreign interventions or dictations."

There were conflicting reports during the day about whether Mubarak, who has ruled for 30 years, would resign. Earlier today, an Egyptian army general waded into the jubilant crowd of protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square today and told them cryptically, "All your demands will be met tonight," leading the crowd to erupt into a roar of cheers.

When asked by ABC News whether that meant that Mubarak would leave office, Army Gen. Hassan al-Roueini only said, "It ends tonight."

Thousands of people streamed into the square in anticipation of witnessing history, but the jubilation and celebration was quickly reduced to sullen anger and slumped shoulders.

In the United States, administration officials watched with apprehension. In brief remarks before Mubarak's speech, President Obama hailed the young people, a new generation "who want their voices to be heard."

"What is absolutely clear is that we are witnessing history unfold. It is a moment of transformation that is taking place because the people of Egypt are calling for change," Obama said.

Mubarak Doesn't Resign, Angering Protesters

Egypt's armed forces issued a statement broadcast earlier today on state radio, saying they will protect the people and will support the demands of the people. The state television reported that the council of armed forces met today to discuss the current situation, and resolved to convene regularly. "We will ensure the protection of the people and that their legitimate demands are met," the army said.

Neither Mubarak nor Suleiman were present at the meeting.

The protests, in their 17th day, gained momentum today as protesters and labor unions across the country went on strike today, adding more fuel to the revolutionary fire.

Factory workers, textile workers, laborers on the Suez Canal, all stopped working. On Tahrir Square, doctors and bus drivers joined the protests today, in a sign of solidarity. The transport strike brought traffic in a city famous for its congestion, to a standstill.

Tanks surrounded key government buildings and federal employees were advised to stay at home.

In a move to appease protesters, the state prosecutor launched a corruption investigation against three former government ministers and a steel tycoon turned parliament member who was a key figure in Mubarak's ruling party, according to Egyptian state TV.

The embattled Egyptian government also announced today, with much fanfare, the formation of a "fact-finding committee" on the "youth uprising" and that will investigate the "unfortunate events" that took place in Tahrir Square on Feb. 2, the day the square turned into a battleground between protesters and pro-Mubarak supporters. The government, however, didn't make it clear if they are investigating people on camel-backs who stormed the square, the protesters, or both.


Update: 22:15 GMT

Army Officer Joins Egypt Protests

An army officer has led calls for President Mubarak to stand down in Egypt's Tahrir Square.

 


Update: 20:45 GMT

Egypt's Mubarak Begins Address To Nation, LIVE

 


Update: 20:30 GMT

Egypt's President Mubarak Will Transfer Powers to Vice President

Al Arabiya says Mubarak will say he will transfer powers to Vice President Suleiman according to the constitution.


Update: 20:15 GMT

Hosni Mubarak To Address The People Of Egypt Soon.


Update: 18:50 GMT

Obama, In Michigan, Comments On Egypt

 


 

Update: 18:20 GMT

Mubarak Not Resigning, Says Information Minister

The Egyptian information minister denies that President Hosni Mubarak is stepping down, state TV reported.


Update: 18:00 GMT

Mubarak To Step Down. Insiders Say Army Coup?

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak looked likely to step down on Thursday after more than two weeks of protests against his 30-year rule and the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood said it looked like there had been a military coup.

Egypt's military announced it was moving to preserve the nation and aspirations of the people after a meeting of the Higher Army Council which was not attended by Mubarak, a former air force commander, who was shortly to address the nation.

"It looks like a military coup," said Essam al-Erian of the Brotherhood which is banned and is seen as Egypt's biggest organized opposition group. "I feel worry and anxiety. The problem is not with the president it is with the regime."

State television showed footage of Mubarak, sitting behind his desk in silence, in a meeting with Vice President Omar Suleiman. The station said the meeting was on Thursday, although that was unclear from the footage.

The news that the 82-year-old may hand over power, or be otherwise unseated, in this key American ally in the Middle East provoked loud and emotional cheers in Cairo's Tahrir Square, the focal point for pro-democracy demonstrations. But some in the crowd were quick to protest they did not want military rule.

Major General Hassan Roweny told tens of thousands of protesters in Tahrir, or Liberation, Square: "Everything you want will be realized."

People chanted: "The people demand the fall of the regime, The regime has fallen."

Others sang: "Civilian, civilian. We don't want it military" -- a call for a freely elected civilian government. It remains to be seen how far the armed forces, which have provided Egypt's post-colonial rulers for six decades, are ready to accept that.

MILITARY COUP?

"We're going to have to wait and see what's going on," said U.S. President Barack Obama, for whose country Mubarak has been a vital ally against radical Islam for three decades.

Asked if Mubarak would step down, an Egyptian official told Reuters: "Most probably."

The BBC quoted the head of Mubarak's political party as saying that the president might go before the day was out.

General Roweny urged the crowds to sing the national anthem and keep Egypt safe. U.S.-built Abrams tanks and other armored vehicles stood by.

Anthony Skinner of the Maplecroft political risk consultancy said: "In the best case scenario, Suleiman would take over and there would be an accelerated transition to democracy. In a worst-case scenario, this turns into effectively a military coup and the military prove not keen on a transition to democracy."

Analyst Michael Hanna from the Century Foundation said on his Twitter feed: "Will people be satisfied under military rule?

"This could create splits among the opposition, and that is probably what the army is hoping for,"

The head of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency also said it was likely Mubarak would step down in the next few hours.

"There's a strong likelihood that Mubarak may step down this evening, which would be significant in terms of where the, hopefully, orderly transition in Egypt takes place," Leon Panetta told a congressional hearing in Washington.

Joining a chorus saying that Mubarak's departure could be imminent, Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq told the BBC that the strongman may step down.

POVERTY AND REPRESSION


The president has been buffeted by widespread protests against poverty, repression and corruption that began on January 25 in an unprecedented display of frustration at his autocratic rule. It was partly inspired by the example of Tunisia, where street protesters toppled the strongman president on January 14.

Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets to demand that Mubarak quit and clashes between protesters and security forces have killed at least 300 people.

Mubarak has clung on to power, promising on February 1 to step down in September. But that was not enough to end an uprising many now are calling the "Nile Revolution."

Mubarak, who has ruled under emergency laws since he took over when Anwar Sadat was assassinated by Islamist soldiers, also said his son would not stand for election, appointed a vice president for the first time and promised reforms.

Alaa el-Seyyed, 26, a member of a protest organizing committee, was asked about possibility of the army taking over. He said: "It is an accomplishment for us. But we will stay until all of our demands are realized -- democracy and freedom."

"He is going down!" Zeina Hassan said on Facebook.

"We want a civilian state, civilian state, civilian state!" Doaa Abdelaal said on Twitter, an Internet service that many see as a vital catalyst for the protests in Tunisia and Egypt that have electrified oppressed populations across the Arab world.

"The army statement is wishy-washy. But we are confident that the day has come. Mubarak will step down, the people have won," said protester Mohamed Anees, who is in his late 20s.

FRIDAY PROTEST

"The army is worried that tomorrow on Friday the people will overpower state buildings and the army will not be able to fire back," Anees said. "The army now is pressuring Mubarak to resolve the situation."

Organizers had promised another major push on the streets on Friday when protesters said they planned to move on to the state radio and television building in "The Day of Martyrs" dedicated to the dead.

Washington pressured Mubarak to speed up the pace of reform but stopped short of demanding the resignation of the president of the country, which has a 1979 peace treaty with Israel and an army which receives about $1.3 billion in U.S. aid a year.

The possibility of unrest spreading to other authoritarian states in the oil-rich region has kept oil prices firm.


Update: 17:45 GMT

Egypt army takes charge, Mubarak to address nation

Egypt's military announced on national television it had stepped in to "safeguard the country," effectively seizing control and assuring protesters calling for President Hosni Mubarak's ouster that all their demands would be met. In Washington, the CIA chief said there was a "strong likelihood" Mubarak will step down later Thursday.

Thousands of people flowed into the protesters' camp in central Tahrir Square, already packed with tens of thousands, chanting "We're almost there, we're almost there" and waving their hands in V-for-victory signs. But euphoria that they were nearing their goal of Mubarak's fall was tempered with worries that a military takeover could scuttle their wider demands for true democracy, and many vowed to continue protests.

State television said Mubarak will speak to the nation Thursday night from his palace in Cairo.

The developments created new confusion about who is calling the shots in Egypt. The military's moves had some trappings of an outright takeover to shepherd some sort of transition of power. But Mubarak's planned speech and his meetings beforehand with his Vice President Omar Suleiman and Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq suggested they wanted to give the appearance of an orderly, constitutional handover of authority.

The head of Mubarak's ruling party, Hossam Badrawi, told The Associated Press he expects that Mubarak will "respond to protesters' demands" in his evening speech.

The dramatic developments capped 17 days of mass anti-government protests, some drawing a quarter-million people, to demand Mubarak's immediate ouster. What began as an Internet campaign swelled into the stiffest challenge ever to Mubarak's nearly 30 years of authoritarian rule, fueled by widespread frustration over the regime's lock on power, government corruption, rampant poverty and unemployment.

The protests had escalated in the past two days with labor strikes and revolts by state employees that added to the chaos, and in a sign of the government's distress, top officials were warning of a coup or the imposition of martial law.

The military's supreme council, headed by Defense Minster Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, appeared to hold the reins of leadership.

Footage on state TV showed Tantawi chairing the council with around two dozen top stern-faced army officers seated around a table. Not at the meeting were Mubarak, the military commander in chief, or his vice president Omar Suleiman, a former army general and intelligence chief named to his post after the protests erupted Jan. 25.

"All your demands will be met today," Gen. Hassan al-Roueini, military commander for the Cairo area, told thousands of protesters in central Tahrir Square. The protesters lifted al-Roueini onto their shoulders and carried him around the square, shouting, "the army, the people one hand." Some in the crowd held up their hands in V-for-victory signs, shouting "the people want the end of the regime" and "Allahu akbar," or "God is great," a victory cry used by secular and religious people alike.

Beyond suggestions that Mubarak would go, however, the military did not directly address whether it intends to carry out the protesters' wider demands for full democracy — or if it would demand that protests stop.

Protesters in the square began chanting, "civilian not military," a signal they do not want military rule, and many vowed not to end their demonstrations. At one entrance to Tahrir, thousands who turned out after the military announcement lined up to join in.

"If he steps down, that's positive, but that doesn't mean our demands have been met," said one protester, 27-year-old Kareem Nedhat. "Handing power to the army is acceptable for a transitional period, but there are still demands that still need to be met. We need to stay in the square." He said protests should continue until the army lifts emergency laws, dissolves parliament.

Another, Sheikh al-Sayed Abu Abdul-Rahman, warned, "This will amount to a coup. They want to turn it from a revolution into a coup. We want a civilian state with no discrimination and no military."

In the military's announcement on state TV, the council's spokesman read a statement announcing the military's "support of the legitimate demands of the people."

He said the council was in permanent session to explore "what measures and arrangements could be made to safeguard the nation, its achievements and the ambitions of its great people." That suggested Tantawi and his generals were now in charge of the country.

The statement was labeled "Communique No. 1," language that also suggests a military coup.

Protests on Thursday increasingly spiraled out of the control of efforts led by Suleiman to contain the crisis. Labor strikes erupted around the country in the past two days, showing that the Tahrir protests had tapped into the deep well of anger over economic woes, including inflation, unemployment, corruption, low wages and wide disparities between rich and poor.

In the past two days, state employees revolted against their directors, factories around the country were hit by strikes, riots broke out in several cities far from Cairo. Protesters angry over bread and housing shortages or low wages burned the offices of a governor and several police headquarters while police stood aside. Professionals and workers began joining the crowds of anti-Mubarak protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square.

On Thursday, hundreds of lawyers in black robes broke through a police cordon and marched on one of Mubarak's palaces — the first time protesters had done so. The president was not in Abdeen Palace, several blocks from Tahrir. The lawyers pushed through a line of police, who did nothing to stop them.

Tens of thousands were massed in Tahrir itself, joined in the morning by striking doctors who marched in their white lab coats from a state hospital to the square and lawyers who broke with their pro-government union to join in.

"Now we're united in one goal. The sun of the people has risen and it will not set again," one of the lawyers, Said Bakri, said before the series of military announcements.

Suleiman has led the regime's management of the crisis since he was named to the vice president post soon after protests erupted on Jan. 25. With his efforts failing to bring an end to protests, he and his foreign minister both warned of the possibility of a coup and imposition of martial law if the protesters do not agree to a government-directed framework of negotiations for reforms. The protesters demanded Mubarak step down first.

The protests were only gaining momentum, given a further push by the labor unrest. Strikes were flaring so quickly that protesters sent out messages to railroad workers not to halt trains with a strike because people in the provinces want to come to Cairo to join the Tahrir rallies.

Youth activists organizing the protests planned to up the pressure on the streets even further, calling for an expanded rally on Friday, hoping to repeat a showing earlier this week that drew about a quarter-million people. Friday's protest was to be expanded, with six separate rallies planned around Cairo, all to eventually march on Tahrir, said Khaled Abdel-Hamid, speaking for a coalition of groups behind the protests.

Strikes erupted in a wide breadth of sectors — postal workers, electricity staff and service technicians at the Suez Canal, in factories manufacturing textiles, steel and beverages and hospitals.

A bus strike launched Thursday snarled traffic in Cairo, a city of 18 million where many of its impoverished residents rely on public transport. Few buses were seen on the streets, which were jammed and slow moving because of the extra reliance on cars.


Update: 17:00 GMT

Egypt's military announced on national television that it stepped in to "safeguard the country" and assured protesters that President Hosni Mubarak will meet their demands in the strongest indication yet that the longtime leader has lost power. In Washington, the CIA chief said there was a "strong likelihood" Mubarak will step down Thursday.

The dramatic announcement showed that the military was taking control after 17 days of protests demanding Mubarak's immediate ouster spiraled out of control.

Footage on state TV showed Defense Minster Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi chairing a meeting of around two dozen top stern-faced army officers, seated around a table. Not at the meeting were Mubarak, the military commander in chief, or his vice president Omar Suleiman, a former army general and intelligence chief named to his post after the protests erupted Jan. 25. That could be a sign that Suleiman, as well, was being pushed out of power.

Gen. Hassan al-Roueini, military commander for the Cairo area, told thousands of protesters in central Tahrir Square, "All your demands will be met today." Some in the crowd held up their hands in V-for-victory signs, shouting "the people want the end of the regime" and "Allahu akbar," or "God is great," a victory cry used by secular and religious people alike.

Tantawi was heading a meeting of the military's supreme council. Its spokesman read a statement on state TV announcing its "support of the legitimate demands of the people."

He said the council was in permanent session to explore "what measures and arrangements could be made to safeguard the nation, its achievements and the ambitions of its great people" — a suggestion that the council was now in charge of the country.

The statement was labeled "communique number 1," further phrasing that suggested a military coup.

The head of the ruling party, Hossam Badrawi, told The Associated Press that he expects that Mubarak will "address the people tonight to respond to protesters' demands."

The moves came after protests Thursday increasingly spiraled out of the control of efforts led by Suleiman to contain the crisis. Labor strikes erupted around the country in the past two days, state employees revolted against their directors and workers began joining the crowds of anti-Mubarak protesters centered for the past 17 days in Tahrir Square.

On Thursday, hundreds of lawyers in black robes broke through a police cordon and marched on one of Mubarak's palaces — the first time protesters had done so. The president was not in Abdeen Palace, several blocks from Tahrir. The lawyers pushed through a line of police, who did nothing to stop them.

Tens of thousands were massed in Tahrir itself, joined in the morning by striking doctors who marched in their white lab coats from a state hospital to the square and lawyers who broke with their pro-government union to join in.

"Now we're united in one goal. The sun of the people has risen and it will not set again," one of the lawyers, Said Bakri, said before the series of military announcements.

Suleiman and the foreign minister have been warning of the possibility of a coup or imposition of martial law if the protesters did not agree to a government-directed framework of negotiations for reforms. The protesters demanded Mubarak step down first.