Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Ominous Signs in Egypt

Reuters has just reported that the Egyptian army has announced that everyone should go home, and The New York Times is reporting that a crowd of pro-Mubarak supporters have appeared on the streets. This cannot be a good sign. The broad display of anti-Mubarak feeling was relatively spontaneous, as spontaneous as any movement anywhere. Now we see an organized response by the administration. This does not bode well for the democratic movement in Egypt. We need to watch. We can only pray for an authentic public movement to proceed to the institutionalization of a democratic administration.
Below are a few lines from Reuters and the New York Times, with links to the source articles.

Egypt's army tells anti-Mubarak protesters "enough"
Wed Feb 2, 2011 11:19am GMT

By Shaimaa Fayed and Yasmine Saleh

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt's armed forces on Wednesday told protesters clamouring for an end to President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year-rule that their demands had been heard and they must clear the streets.

The army warning came as international pressure grew on Mubarak to quit and his closest ally, the United States, told him bluntly that a political transition must begin immediately.

But an opposition coalition called for the protests in Cairo's Tahrir (Liberation) Square to continue.

Crowds gathered in the square for a ninth day of protests, rejecting Mubarak's promise on Tuesday that he would not stand in elections scheduled for September. They want him to go now.

A military spokesman, addressing the protesters on state television on Wednesday morning, said: "The army forces are calling on you. You began by going out to express your demands and you are the ones capable of restoring normal life."

It was a clear call for protesters to leave the streets. And although the army had previously said the people had "legitimate demands" and soldiers would not open fire on them, it set up a possible confrontation if they failed to do so. []

Army Tells Cairo Protesters to Restore Normalcy as Obama Urges Faster Shift of Power
Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters

Published: February 2, 2011

CAIRO — Just hours after President Hosni Mubarak declared that he would step down in September and President Obama urged a faster transition, Egypt’s powerful military signaled a shift on Wednesday, calling on the protesters who have propelled tumultuous changes here to “restore normal life.”

President Obama after his remarks on the situation in Egypt on Tuesday. He said that a political transition “must begin now.”

The announcement by a military spokesman appeared to be a call for the demonstrators, who have turned out in hundreds of thousands, to leave the streets even as high-powered diplomacy between Cairo and Washington unfolded at a blistering peace and reverberations from the protest spread on Wednesday to Yemen, where the president promised to leave in 2013.

On Tuesday, after Mr. Mubarak offered to step down within months as modern Egypt’s longest-serving leader, President Obama strongly suggested that Mr. Mubarak’s concession was not enough, declaring that an “orderly transition must be meaningful, it must be peaceful, and it must begin now.”

While the meaning of the last phrase was deliberately vague, it appeared to be a signal that Mr. Mubarak might not be able to delay the shift to a new leadership.

On the streets, meanwhile, the tactics and calculations seemed to be shifting too, possibly spurring the military’s concern as pro-Mubarak demonstrators — some of them in apparently confrontational mood — turned out in larger numbers to support the president. In a separate development, Internet access, denied for days by official restrictions, began to return.

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