Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has defied protesters’ demands that he quit, after a day of high expectations but shattered hopes in Cairo.
Earlier on Thursday, all the signs were pointing towards a Mubarak departure.
Hossan Badrawi, the Secretary-General of the ruling National Democratic Party had told the BBC that Mubarak would speak to the nation later that evening and that he hoped Mubarak would transfer power to Vice-President Omar Suleiman.
Egypt’s Prime Minister, Ahmed Shafiq, told the British broadcaster that discussions on Mubarak’s departure from power after 30 years were under way.
An unnamed cabinet official told news agency REUTERS that a decision on whether Mubarak would stay or go would be made “within hours.” The head of the CIA has weighed in on the speculation, saying there was a “strong likelihood” Mubarak would not be president on Friday.
American channel CNN reported, without citing sources, that Mubarak would cede his power as commander-in-chief of the army to a military figure
In Cairo, an Egyptian army commander told protesters who have been in the streets for more than two weeks that “Everything you want will be realised.”
The Egyptian military’s Higher Army Council met on Thursday in the apparent absence of Mubarak and Suleiman and released a statement pledging to “discuss the necessary measures and preparations to protect the nation, its gains and the aspirations of the people.”
Hundreds of thousands of people in Tahrir Square, perhaps even millions, began celebrations that turned out to be premature. They have known no other leader but Mubarak for 30 years. They will have to put up with him a while longer.