Thursday, February 10, 2011
Live from Egypt:
Update 7:00 PM CST : Cairo, Egypt (CNN) -- Major Egyptian opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei warned of potential violent unrest after President Hosni Mubarak announced late Thursday he would not step down before September elections.
Mubarak "is gambling with his country" in order to stay at the helm, ElBaradei told CNN's Wolf Blitzer.
He reiterated the message of his Twitter account, which read, "Egypt will explode. Army must save the country now."
Major clashes between the people and the army, which Egyptians traditionally believe has been on their side, would be devastating, said ElBaradei, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and former director of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Key players in Egypt
ElBaradei's outlook had changed since hours before, when Egyptians, including thousands packed in Cairo's Tahrir Square, expected Mubarak to step down rather than delegate powers to Vice President Omar Suleiman.
Thursday afternoon, ElBaradei wrote: "I am closely following the situation. We are almost there."
But he told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that Egyptians will not accept the new arrangement.
"Suleiman is considered to be an extension of Mubarak. They are twins. Neither of them is acceptable to the people," ElBaradei said. "For the sake of their country, they should go."
ElBaradei said a leadership council and a caretaker government should rule the North African nation for one year during a transition to a more democratic process.
Mubarak's defiant remarks about foreign intervention, and his determination to see the transition through, was not what most in the Tahrir Square crowd wanted to hear.
"Get out! Get out!" many chanted as he spoke.
Suleiman told the protesters to go home and back to work. That had not happened by early Friday.
Yaser Fathi, one of the organizers of a post-speech protest in the northern city of Alexandria, told CNN hundreds of demonstrators marched to an Egyptian military base. They asked the armed forces to intervene and shouted that "the military must step in to get Mubarak out," Fathi said.
The vice president referred to the past two weeks as the "revolution of the young people."
Khalid Abdalla, a demonstrator in Tahrir Square and star of the motion picture "The Kite Runner," said early Friday that it's "an incredibly sad moment right now." "Everyone's lost," the actor said. "People are trying to work out what more they can do."
Here are the latest developments, as confirmed by CNN, on the uprising in Egypt. Throngs of demonstrators have taken to the streets of Egypt's major cities to demand an end to President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule, prompting the government to deploy the military to deal with civil unrest for the first time in a generation. Check out our full coverage and the latest tweets from CNN correspondents on the ground.
[Update 12:40 p.m. in Cairo, 5:40 p.m. ET President Hosni Mubarak has transfered all effective powers of the presidency to Vice President Omar Suleiman, making Suleiman the de-facto president of Egypt, the Egyptian Ambassador to the United States said.
"The president did indicate very clearly he was transferring all his presidential authority to the vice president," Sameh Shoukry told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "President Mubarak has transferred the powers of the presidency to his vice president, who will now undertake all authority as president."
That makes Mubarak the de jure head of state, or as a matter of law, and Suleiman, the de-facto head of state and the military, Shoukry said, attributing the information to the Egyptian government.
[Update 12:25 p.m. in Cairo, 5:25 p.m. ET] CNN's Ivan Watson says you need only look at the network of tents and a makeshift wooden shelter erected in the middle of Tahrir Square for evidence of what people are planning to do next: "These people are not going. 'When he leaves, we leave.' This is just the beginning."
[Update 12:15 p.m. in Cairo, 5:15 p.m. ET] Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak offered his view on the situation in Egypt Thursday during a visit to the United Nations:
"I think we should not pretend that we are more important for the Egyptian people than their own interests... it's up to the Egyptian people to find their way and to do it according to their own constitution, norms and practices."
[Update 11:58 p.m. in Cairo, 4:58 p.m. ET] Protesters are forming a human chain around the offices of the state-run television after Mubarak's announcement that he will stay in power until September. "The anger is deep, it's profound and widespread," CNN's Ben Wedeman reports of the crowd reaction. Some speculate that the government is trying to provoke strong reaction to justify a crackdown.
[Update 11:38 p.m. in Cairo, 4:38 p.m. ET] Vice President Omar Suleiman says President Hosni Mubarak's speech affirms his commitment to responding to "the demands of the people" and to making the "safety, security and stability" of Egypt a priority above any other consideration.
He also commended the "youth revolution" while urging young people to "go back to your houses, go back to your work, the homeland needs your work." He also told them to ignore the "satellite images" that "mar Egypt" by fomenting revolt.
Posted by Steve Douglass at 1:52 PM