In a speech to the nation Tuesday night, Feb. 1, President Hosni Mubarak defied the demands of President Barack Obama and his army generals to quit at once and leave Egypt and said he would serve out his term until September and not run again. He also swore to die in Egypt – meaning no exile for him. Mubarak said he would devote his remaining months to managing a peaceful transition of power and called on parliament to amend the constitution so as to open up the ballot to presidential candidates and limit the president's term in office.
A cheer went up in Cairo's Tahrir Square where protesters watched the speech on a huge TV screen, when Mubarak said his role was finished – although some continued to chant demands for him to go right now.
The big question is whether the army and people will let Mubarak have his last months in office.
Earlier Monday, debkafile reported:
In a final ultimatum, Washington Tuesday, Feb. 1, told Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak bluntly that his time was up. He must quit now and leave Egypt without further delay. As four million protesters marched across Egypt in a relentless drive to be rid of him, Mubarak got the same message from the heads of the Egyptian army, who may or not have been acting in tune with Washington.
Barack Obama's message reached Mubarak's desk by a special messenger, Ambassador Frank Wisner.
He is expected to announce in a speech to the nation Tuesday night that he will not run for a fifth term as president but serve full term. This will be seen as more foot-dragging and further infuriate the people.
Our Cairo sources report that the army chiefs were horrified to see hundreds of Cairo protesters taking part in the March of Millions Tuesday hoisting Mubarak effigies on a cardboard gallows or paraded in coffins over Tahrir Square – an unprecedentedly brutal expression of rage and hate. Army leaders have begun to fear that the protesters' next step may be to haul him out of Abdeen Palace and lynch him if he stands by his refusal to step down.
The Egyptian army chiefs have made plans to fill Mubarak's shoes and rule the country of 85 million as soon as he is gone. Before them are three optional procedures for bridging the transitional period up until general and presidential elections.
1. A council of officers consisting of 3-5 generals will assume presidential powers and govern the country for the interim, or;
2. The new Vice President, the former Intelligence Minister Gen. Omar Suleiman, will be appointed president; or;
3. Chief of Staff Gen. Sami Enan will take his place in the presidential office.
It is not known if the generals have put their plan before the president or that he learned about from officers loyal to him.
In parallel consultations at the US embassy in Cairo, the three options were put before Ambassador Margaret Scobey by Mohammed ElBaradei, the former International Atomic Energy Director who was chosen by opposition organizations for liaison missions. He was also in touch with the British ambassador in Cairo during the day. By undertaking these tasks, ElBaradei, who was hardly known in Egypt, has advanced his chances of a prominent role in the post-Mubarak government.
debkafile's Washington sources report that the Obama administration has in fact put a gun on Mubarak's desk and are willing to discuss nothing more than the conditions of his departure in the next couple of days. So far, the Egyptian president has not informed the Americans or the army what is plans are and no one can tell what turn the crisis will take next.