Massive Demonstrations as Mubarak Heads Out of Cairo
Published February 11, 2011
As protesters fill Tahrir Square in another day of demonstrations, an Israeli military intelligence official told Fox News that President Mubarak has left Cairo via helicopter, and was headed to his residence in Sharem a-Sheikh, a resort town in Egypt.
This comes a day after the embattled leader told protesters he planned to stay in office until the country’s upcoming elections in September.
Many opponents have made it clear that they want Mubarak and his authoritarian regime to step down immediately.
The statement by the Armed Forces Supreme Council -- its second in two days -- was a blow to many protesters who had called on the military to take action to push out Mubarak after his latest refusal to step down, reported the AP.
But soldiers also took no action to stop demonstrators from massing outside the palace and the headquarters of state television, indicating they were trying to avoid another outbreak of violence.
"We expected the army's decision, we always knew that it was behind Mubarak. But we know it's not going to harm us," Safi Massoud said as she joined thousands of people packed into Cairo's central Tahrir Square. "We wont leave until we choose a transition president. We don't want Mubarak, we don't want Suleiman."
Anti-government protesters said they were more determined than ever as the uprising entered its 18th day.
The military statement endorsed Mubarak's plan to transfer some powers to Vice President Omar Suleiman and promised free and fair presidential elections later this year.
It also promised that the hated emergency laws, in force since Egypt's authoritarian ruler came to office in 1981, would be lifted and gave a somewhat more specific timeframe than Mubarak had offered in his Thursday night speech.
The military implied they would be lifted when protests end, saying it could happen "when the current security situation permits."
It also called for public services to resume and urged "the return of normal life in order to safeguard the achievements of our glorious people."
Undaunted, thousands packed into Cairo's central Tahrir Square, or Liberation Square, which has been the center of the uprising since it began on Jan. 25.
A few hundred protesters assembled outside the gate of Mubarak's Oruba Palace. The palace was protected by four tanks and rolls of barbed wire, but soldiers were doing nothing to stop demonstrators from joining the rally and chanting anti-Mubarak slogans.