Thursday, February 10, 2011

Breaking: Hosni Mubarak To Step Down?

Multiple news channels and outlets are reporting that Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak will be stepping down and Omar Suleiman will be assuming control.
gypt's President Hosni Mubarak is to step down tonight, two sources told NBC News, amid widespread protests against his 30-year rule that have gripped the country.

Following an all-day meeting of the country's supreme military council, the army said all the protesters' demands would be met and a further statement was due to be made later Thursday, clarifying the situation.

NBC News reported that a high-ranking source inside the president's office said that Mubarak would step down and the newly appointed vice president, Omar Suleiman, would take over. This was then confirmed by a second source.

The news came following repeated warnings of a military crackdown or coup.
The latter news is rather ominous, but not exactly unexpected. The military was ultimately going to decide whether Mubarak stays or goes, and they've decided that it was in their institutional interest for Mubarak to leave. Whether this means that protesters' demands for open and free and fair elections and a new government that isn't an autocratic regime is up in the air.

Via the BBC:
1631: Egyptocracy in Egypt tweets: "To everyone in this revolution, we do not want this to turn into an army coup d'etat. This is a civil revolution!"

1628: Charity, from Cairo, writes: "We are happy and relieved about this news and hope Suleiman and Shafiq will include all groups and create a real representative government." Have Your Say
1627: The BBC's Lyse Doucet tweets: "Driving thru Cairo traffic. People already beeping horns&waving V for victory signs."
The CIA notes that the Egyptian military is taking steps to protect the nation, which could be signaling that a coup d'etat is underway. How the military acts in the coming days and weeks will be the true test of whether meaningful and lasting change will be underway in Egypt.

Forget about Suleiman? This report seems to indicate that the military will assume power directly and bypass Suleiman - that it will form a junta.

Bear in mind that Suleiman, Mubarak, Sadat, and Nasser were all military men. The military isn't interested in promoting democracy. It's interested in preserving its institutional freedom and power. That means they'll pay lip service to the protest demands, but the power will reside in those at the top.

Mubarak was the nominal president of a democratic government, but he kept emergency law in effect from the time he was promoted following Sadat's assassination, bypassing the democratic mechanisms in the Egyptian constitution and pretty much turned Parliament into a rubber stamp organization. He won elections and got to pick and choose his opposition by determining who was eligible to run.

Whether the military makes the ideological and idealistic switch to back a true representative democracy via elections, or decides to back Suleiman as a strongman pushing their interests, or to form a junta remains to be seen.

DCI Panetta: Mubarak's departure has not been confirmed.
Leon Panetta, head of the Central Intelligence Agency, says the U.S. has not been able to confirm that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is about to step down.

“We haven’t been able to confirm in fact that he is going to do that, so we are monitoring the situation,” CIA Director Leon Panetta told a Bloomberg reporter in Washington, following a House committee hearing on security threats.

Panetta, who said during the hearing that he was aware of reports of an impending Mubarak resignation, said the public should not take those remarks as “insight that this in fact going to happen.”
Right now, there's not much more than conflicting reports indicating that Mubarak intends to announce that he will step down from power.

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