Mubarak to Step down

Posted on February 10, 2011


Image: Egyptian lawyers in black robes, at right, are stopped by anti-riot police officers
Mohammed Abou Zaid  /  AP
Egyptian lawyers in black robes, at right, are stopped by anti-riot police officers, left, as they stream into Cairo’s Tahrir Square, Thursday.
NBC, and news services NBC, and news services

breaking news

CAIRO — Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak is to step down after 17 days of pro-democracy protests, two sources told NBC News on Thursday.

Following an all-day meeting of the country’s supreme military council, the army said all the protesters’ demands would be met and a further statement was expected to be made later Thursday, clarifying the situation.

Mubarak was expected to formally announce his departure in an address to the nation tonight.

NBC News said a high-ranking source inside the president’s office said that Mubarak would step down and the newly appointed vice president, Omar Suleiman, would take over. This was then confirmed by a second source.

Mubarak was not present at the supreme council meeting, despite being the commander in chief of Egypt’s armed forces.

State TV announced that the supreme council had expressed its “support of the legitimate demands of the people.”

Gen. Hassan al-Roueini, military commander for the Cairo area, told thousands of protesters in central Tahrir Square, “All your demands will be met today.”

The Secretary-General of the ruling NDP party, Dr Hossam Badrawi, told the U.K’s Channel 4 News that he was expecting Mubarak to stand aside in his televised address.

“I’m expecting him to pass his decision for the constitution amendments and for him to go to the constitution and transmit his authorities as president to his vice president,” Badrawi told Channel 4 News.

Badrawi said Mubarak had made the decision reluctantly.

“He sees himself as someone who served his country,” Badrawi said. “He made mistakes but he sees himself as someone that does not deserve getting out of power, of his service, that way. At the same time he realizes that it’s the time to change. That’s my impression in the last two days.”

The news came as protesters defied government threats of a military crackdown with doctors in white lab coats and lawyers in black robes streaming into the square as labor unrest spread across the country.

The strikes had given powerful momentum to Egypt’s wave of anti-government protests — now in their 17th day — and with its efforts to manage the crisis failing, the government threatened the army could impose martial law.

And, for the second day, crowds angry over lack of housing rioted in the Suez Canal city of Port Said.

They set fire to the local headquarters of state security, the main post office and the governor’s offices, which had already been partially burned the day before. It appeared police and soldiers were not intervening.

News that Mubarak was to stand down came shortly after the regime seemed to be threatening a military crackdown.

Speaking to the Arab news network Al-Arabiya on Thursday, Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said that if “adventurers” take over the process of reform the military “will be compelled to defend the constitution and national security … and we’ll find ourselves in a very grave situation.”

The night earlier, he was more explicit, saying in an interview with “PBS NewsHour” that there would be chaos if Mubarak stepped down immediately.

“Do we want the armed forces to assume the responsibility of stabilizing the nation through imposing martial law, and army in the streets?” he said.

It was the second coup warning to the protesters this week, with Prime Minister Omar Suleiman making similar threats Tuesday.

A protest group, responding to Suleiman’s remarks, said Wednesday that there was “a clear threat to the protesters in Tahrir Square.”

“We do not accept his threat, on the contrary, the demonstrators will continue and will not stop until we overthrow this tyrant regime,” the April 6 Youth movement said in a statement emailed to its Facebook followers.

The Associated Press, Reuters and staff contributed to this report.