As huge crowds packed central Cairo Friday, calling anew for the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s military chiefs pledged to back the authoritarian leader’s decision to remain in office.
The armed forces did not move against the demonstrators, however, and the statement from the supreme military council said it would guarantee “free and honest” elections and a lifting of Egypt’s 30-year-old state of emergency once calm returned to the streets.
In a statement read on state television, the council endorsed Mubarak’s move the night before to transfer most of his powers to his hand-picked vice president, Omar Suleiman. It also encouraged protesters to go home, citing the need to “return to normal life.”
Instead, waves of people continued to course into Tahrir Square, and anger and frustration mounted as word spread of the military’s stance.
“Mubarak must go! He is finished!” protesters shouted as a sea of people waved red-white-and-black Egyptian flags.
At a smaller demonstration at the presidential palace, in the affluent northern suburb of Heliopolis, Taha Nahas predicted that the military’s statement would backfire and that Egyptians who had seen the armed forces as an honest protector of their interests would change their minds.
- Egypt Braces for a Showdown Between Mubarak and Protesters (time.com)
- Egypt’s army backs Mubarak plan (independent.co.uk)
- Protesters Enraged Over Mubarak’s Refusal to Step Down (abcnews.go.com)
- Egyptian Military Backs Mubarak (npr.org)
- Egypts military promises response as enraged protesters mass (theglobeandmail.com)
- Egypt’s Military Throws Its Weight Behind Mubarak (abcnews.go.com)