Unconfirmed reports say Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his family have left Cairo. If so, his handing of power to Vice President Omar Suleiman yesterday makes sense.
Last night, Mubarak refused to step down, despite suggestions from the military he would abdicate by day’s end. Protesters who jammed Liberation Square to hear his resignation were furious when he refused to step down. Instead, under Article 82 of the Egyptian constitution, Mubarak handed significant powers to recently installed Vice President Omar Suleiman. Less than an hour later, Suleiman appeared on public TV appealing for peace and unity from the protesters.
The vice president urged young people involved in the protest to go back to work. In a cryptic remark, he said the youths could be the first casualties if order is not restored. Suleiman has a reputation for allegedly using a strong hand, including torture and murder in maintaining order.
An announcement early today, Friday, Feb. 11th, 2011, from the military, left the protesters again disappointed. In Communique #2, military leaders indicated they will follow the Egyptian constitution and not force Mubarak to resign. They also assured an angry crowd restrictions on public assembly and a curfew would be lifted as soon as the demonstrators disbursed.
When a mother demanded an answer from soldiers at the presidential palace, “Why was my son killed?” The guard told her, “There is no one in there!,” said a reporter from Al Jezeera. Tanks and government troops assure the palace remains safe, no matter who is inside.
A few minutes ago, two helicopters flew overhead and appeard to land within the palace grounds. The crowd gave a large cheer, presuming the helicopters are for Mubarak, if he has not left already. No one can confirm President Mubarak has in fact left.