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Egyptian army backs Mubarak rule as protesters launch ‘Day of Martyrs’

By Agence France-Presse
Friday, February 11, 2011 8:12 EDT
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CAIRO – Egypt’s army threw President Hosni Mubarak a lifeline on Friday, endorsing his plan to stay in office until September even as hundreds of thousands of angry protesters took back to the streets.

Demonstrators sobbed as they conducted the weekly Muslim prayers in massed ranks in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. The preacher choked up as he gave the sermon and the crowd screamed “Leave! Leave!” at each mention of the hated president.

In a statement read out on state television a little earlier, the military said it would guarantee that Mubarak follow through with his promises to reform the constitution to ensure a fair presidential poll in September.

But the protesters had wanted the army to go much further and unseat the 82-year-old autocrat, who has ceded unspecified powers to his vice president but refuses to quit despite weeks of demonstrations against his 30-year rule.

The military’s decision could provoke a dangerous confrontation between the troops and protesters, who are already livid that Mubarak failed to announce his resignation in an address to the nation on Thursday night.

The army’s Supreme Council had raised the hopes of many ahead of Mubarak’s televised address, announcing they would act “in support of the legitimate demands of the people” and “take steps to protect the nation.”

But Friday’s announcement, read aloud on state television, suggested the military has now thrown its weight behind Mubarak and the concessions he has so far offered in a bid to calm the revolt.

The army also vowed to lift the much-criticised emergency law in force since Mubarak’s predecessor was assassinated in 1981, but only “as soon as the current circumstances are over.”

It also said it was committed to “safeguarding the legitimate demands of the people and will work to implement them … for a peaceful transition of power and a free democratic society.”

The council stressed it would not arrest protesters, but warned against any “harm to the safety and security of the nation” and it urged striking state employees to head back to work.

Outside the presidential palace, protesters reacted furiously to the military’s announcement, which was read to the crowd by a colonel.

One demonstrator grabbed his microphone to berate the military. “You have disappointed us, all our hopes rested in you,” he shouted, as the crowd began to chant slogans calling for Mubarak to be put on trial.

“No, no, this is not a coup,” the colonel protested, insisting that the army would not take power itself.

In Tahrir Square, the epicentre of the daily protests in central Cairo, several kilometres (miles) away, hundreds of thousands of protesters packed in for the Friday prayer, galvanised by fury at Mubarak’s refusal to step down.

In a show of solidarity in at least lower levels of the army, three Egyptian officers shed their weapons and uniforms and joined the protesters.

An impassioned preacher addressed the military in his sermon, exhorting them to “act in a way that will be acceptable to God on judgement day,” shortly before fainting and being carried away through the crowd.

On Thursday night, hundreds of thousands had crowded into Tahrir to hear a speech that was widely expected to be Mubarak’s last as president.

Instead, he delegated some of his powers to his ally and Egypt’s former intelligence supremo, Omar Suleiman, while vowing he would stay in office until September and one day die in Egypt, ruling out a flight into exile.

His hotly-anticipated declaration wrong-footed world leaders and enraged demonstrators.

Tahrir Square, earlier a scene of partying and celebration ahead of the expected resignation, erupted in anger, with protesters waving their shoes in disgust, even before Mubarak finished his televised address.

Campaigners have called for Friday to see the biggest protests yet. Hundreds of thousands — perhaps millions — were expected to march after the main weekly Muslim prayers.

Some protesters have suggested escalating the campaign by marching into their thousands to the heavily fortified presidential compound or the state television building, which would increase the risk of clashes.

“I think today we have to go to the palace. Here in Tahrir, this is endless,” 60-year-old Abdul Aziz Habib, a factory owner, told AFP.

Despite the grimly defiant mood, protesters found lighter ways to express their anger at Mubarak. In the middle of Tahrir, someone had drawn a giant outline of a donkey on the ground.

Inside the drawing a caption read: “We received your message and we know that you are a donkey.”

Mubarak was also on a collision course with the international community, and in particular Egypt’s key ally and donor, Washington.

In his speech on Thursday, he took a swipe at the United States and other countries that want a faster transition to democracy in the Arab world’s most populous nation, vowing: “I have never bent to foreign diktats.”

US President Barack Obama reacted with a flash of anger of his own, saying Mubarak had failed to map out “meaningful or sufficient” change, or to speak clearly enough to Egypt and the world.

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
AFP journalists cover wars, conflicts, politics, science, health, the environment, technology, fashion, entertainment, the offbeat, sports and a whole lot more in text, photographs, video, graphics and online.
 
 
 
 
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  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FONW6K3ZWV4BU4ZTCDCSZHHH6E Mick Jagger

    Looks like the military is as corrupt as one could imagine…just like here.

  • Anonymous

    Mubarak has mental problems obviously… Everyone hates him, he has money, why doesn’t he just leave? He could go buy an island on the equator somewhere and live out the rest of his life. Instead he’s gonna get strung up and cause a lot of Ultra Violence in the process. Having mental issues helps when striving to be a dictator I guess. What an idiot and an asshole. He needs an intervention big time and he’s gonna get it kicking and screaming all the way. He should switch his Iron Fist up the Ass addiction to THC addiction. He would live longer, although I think it’s too late for that now. Slip him a blunt anyway someone, please!

  • http://www.BaltimoreGreenCurrency.org Shrapnel

    I’m betting on a military coup by Monday. All that training of Egypt’s military funded by US taxpayers is holding at the moment, but it won’t hold for much longer. There have got be all kinds of secret meetings taking place right now. Mubarak and his chief torturer will no doubt find themselves hanging upside down from lamp posts. Stupid arrogant bastards should have left when they could. There is nothing so powerful as an idea whose time has come.

  • Rob

    So, once again; has anyone heard what the justification was for the annual declaration of national emergency here in the US? Fairly certain it is the ongoing “war” on “terror”.
    And while we are about it, what was the first justication? I would also like to see the entire list, perhaps in a timeline format.
    No executive has ever voluntarily surrendered an authority enjoyed by their predecessor, here or Eqypt or anywhere else. Therefore the only option in regards to reclaiming an ill-advised perception of authority becomes an involuntary surrender, often at the point of the blade. (Magna Carta)
    On a side note, it is interesting that spell-check won’t even touch those words.

  • Anonymous

    Supposedly in a democracy, No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

    “Quartered” means hiding in a damn tank.

  • parrots_abound

    To Mubarak and all his regime that has shared power with him.

    GET OUT NOW!! Not later, not in the way you want, not on your terms, NOW.

  • http://twitter.com/PeterNoTail Peter No Tail

    Was it really so shocking that military is backing Mubarak?The military had two choices:1 Back the status quo/don’t rock the boat.or2 Risk losing billions in US military aid and lose out on all those shiny new army toys.Which side the military would back was not as big a mystery as the media made it out to be.

  • Anonymous

    “I have never bent to foreign diktats.”

    The Mubarak tough guy act is just an act. The real goal of world leaders behind the scene is to wear down the protesters. September is a long ways.

    The reason Mubarak is not leaving is only because the world leaders want it to be written that he exited.

    If history were to write that he was ousted, such a history will give many others in the Middle region ideas that they too in a show of protest could create change.

    As it is going the protest will be seen as nothing more than a gathering of discontents.

    The protesters in Burma ended the same way that the Egyptian protesters will. The Burma protest had large showings of protest. The world gave it lip service like they are giving the protestors in Egypt lip service.

    When the election was stolen in 2000, the United States spat on the graves ot those who fought in the American Revolution. Pissed right on the graves of the American Revolutionary war dead. The correct response to the ripped off election was to hit the streets.

  • Anonymous

    ….

  • Anonymous

    Is anyone really surprised that Mubarak is supported by the thugs in the Egyptian Army who were trained by the thugs in the U.S. Army to suppress democracy?

    We’ve seen this pattern across the globe for more than a hundred years of American imperialism.

  • Anonymous

    The military is upholding the last result of an election. They didn’t say they would fire on the crowd. We had the same situation back when Smedley Butler, a Marine, stopped this from happening in the US. He made the right decision too. If Egypt did institute a military coup, Egypt would no longer be a Democracy. I hope the protesters can hold out. Washington & other allies should immediately withdraw all ‘funding’ immediately. Mubarak has plenty of money to move to a country estate.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VGQPF4SAS4BGFLDBZYCATHIVFY Chris Herz

    The real problem as always: The USA buys the local army and police. All the rest falls into place.
    The real crunch comes next if the lower ranks in the Egyptian Army refuse order to kill their fellow citizens.

  • Anonymous

    Whenever it comes to the Middle East, it’s always what Israel wants. Despite the fact that Israel has commited more acts of subversion and caused more harm to the U.S. then all Middle Eastern countries combined.

    It’s time that dual-citizens, Christian Zionists, and those paid well by AIPAC and other Jewish lobbies pack their bags and move to Israel and leave the rest of Americans out of their problems. I thought the war in Iraq would’ve taught us a lesson. But so many still believe that we went to Iraq because of “terrorism” or WMDs. We went to Iraq for Israel.

  • Anonymous

    sad…the people didn’t get what they wanted
    this is what would happen in America if the people
    did this … goes to show the government will do what the
    want to keep the Duckie in order

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dorothy-Banks/100001470098554 Dorothy Banks

    I watched Mubarak’s taped speech but I couldn’t concentrate 100% on his words. His appearance, though neat, not a hair out of place, I wondered in he was a younger double of Mubarak. There were no close-ups throughout the speech. I had seen photos of Mubarak and he looked older than he did Thursday. I found photos on the Internet. The difference was undeniable.

    I, for one, do not believe Mubarak delivered a live speech Thursday. I repeat: I think a double delivered the speech. I think Mubarak was either in hiding, or he had already left the country. Today there are reports that he has gone to a vacation spot out of Egypt.

    Wherever Mubarak is, his finger is still on the pulse of Egypt’s politics.

  • Anonymous

    How ’bout this Obama – turn our $2 billion/year in military aid to $2 billion/year decreasing to zero in ten years in economic aid? Pay for our royal fckup in supporting this dictator and give the people a chance.

  • Anonymous

    Moobarak has left the building! And took the other rat with him. He relinquished control to the army. Never have I seen anything like this! The power and the determination of one people, united as one. Egyptians are, once again, the greatest and proudest civilization on Earth. The pride of the Arab world and the hope of humanity.

    Will Cuba be next?

  • Anonymous

    There is only one way to get rid of the world government, its called non compliance. The first thing you should do is get rid of all you paper assets and go to PHYSICAL gold and silver. The banks can’t leverage it then you should start a garden with organic food, you should move out of the city and get a well. Then cancel cable, if you must have tv get Netflix or a digital antenna, you have to kill the propaganda by taking the revenue away from the large corporations. People have to stop buying foreign goods and going to Walmart or any store that is publicly traded.

    There is more but I don’t have time, if yo want real change do what I said, if many people do it you will make a difference.

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