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Thursday
Feb102011

Egypt (and Beyond) LiveBlog: Away from the Cameras

0255 GMT: The Iranian government has jammed BBC Persian's broadcast into Iran in anticipation of protests on the 14th of this month. 

0250 GMT: Blogger and activist Kareem Amer has been released. 

0200 GMT: President Barack Obama released a statement on Egypt this evening. We are publishing it in full:

The Egyptian people have been told that there was a transition of authority, but it is not yet clear that this transition is immediate, meaningful or sufficient. Too many Egyptians remain unconvinced that the government is serious about a genuine transition to democracy, and it is the responsibility of the government to speak clearly to the Egyptian people and the world. The Egyptian government must put forward a credible, concrete and unequivocal path toward genuine democracy, and they have not yet seized that opportunity.

As we have said from the beginning of this unrest, the future of Egypt will be determined by the Egyptian people. But the United States has also been clear that we stand for a set of core principles. We believe that the universal rights of the Egyptian people must be respected, and their aspirations must be met. We believe that this transition must immediately demonstrate irreversible political change, and a negotiated path to democracy. To that end, we believe that the emergency law should be lifted. We believe that meaningful negotiations with the broad opposition and Egyptian civil society should address the key questions confronting Egypt’s future: protecting the fundamental rights of all citizens; revising the Constitution and other laws to demonstrate irreversible change; and jointly developing a clear roadmap to elections that are free and fair.

We therefore urge the Egyptian government to move swiftly to explain the changes that have been made, and to spell out in clear and unambiguous language the step by step process that will lead to democracy and the representative government that the Egyptian people seek.  Going forward, it will be essential that the universal rights of the Egyptian people be respected. There must be restraint by all parties. Violence must be forsaken. It is imperative that the government not respond to the aspirations of their people with repression or brutality. The voices of the Egyptian people must be heard.

The Egyptian people have made it clear that there is no going back to the way things were: Egypt has changed, and its future is in the hands of the people. Those who have exercised their right to peaceful assembly represent the greatness of the Egyptian people, and are broadly representative of Egyptian society. We have seen young and old, rich and poor, Muslim and Christian join together, and earn the respect of the world through their non-violent calls for change. In that effort, young people have been at the forefront, and a new generation has emerged. They have made it clear that Egypt must reflect their hopes, fulfill their highest aspirations, and tap their boundless potential. In these difficult times, I know that the Egyptian people will persevere, and they must know that they will continue to have a friend in the United States of America.

0155 GMT: Protesters have divided themselves into four groups almost now. The core of the protesters are occupying Tahrir Square like every night. The second and third group - made up of thousands more - are camped outside the parliament and the state TV building and will spend the night there. The fourth group is marching towards the Presidential Palace right now. 

0150 GMT: Reports indicate that many protesters are continuing their march towards the Presidential Palace which is a very long walk away from Tahrir Square. 

0150 GMT: The Muslim Brotherhood is afraid there will be a military coup in Egypt soon. Al Masry Al Youm reports

"It looks like a military coup," said Essam al-Erian of the Brotherhood which is banned and is seen as Egypt's biggest organized opposition group. "I feel worry and anxiety. The problem is not with the president it is with the regime."

 

0140 GMT: There are reports that a local employee of the US Embassy in Cairo who went missing during the early days of the portests has now been confirmed to have been killed. We cannot confirm this independently. 

2330 GMT: The Egyptian Ambassador to the UK has just told the BBC that Mubarak is now only president-in-name and Suleiman holds real power. 

2330 GMT: Many sources, including CNN, are speculating that Mubarak did not step down because he may want to lure the protesters into committing acts of violence so he can then crackdown upon them. 

2315 GMT: The state TV is releasing a statement attributed to Wael Ghonim asking protesters to go home and that he supports Mubarak's speech. Ghonim has rejected this and made a statement claiming he hasn't asked anyone to go home nor has he made any statements since Mubarak's speech.

2310 GMT: The Egyptian Army is reportedly releasing a new statement now. The White House is expected to release a written statement on the developments of the night later. 

2255 GMT: Hundreds of protesters are still around the State TV building.

2240 GMT: Sameh Shoukry, the Egyptian Ambassador to the US, just told CNN that Mubarak had "transferred all powers under the constitution to the Vice President." He added that the presidnet has no powers anymore except the power to dissolve the parliament.  

De jure, now Mubarak is president. However, it looks like de fact, Omar Suleiman is in charge now. 

2238 GMT: Opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei just tweeted

Egypt will explode. Army must save the country now

2233 GMT: Many reports coming in the protesters are calling on a huge gathering in Tahrir Square tomorrow which will then march on the Presidential Palace. The Palace is guarded by the Presidential Guard right now and is located approximately 8 miles (13 kilometers) away from Tahrir Square. 

2230 GMT: BBC's Paul Adams reports"

People in Cairo are receiving text messages from the high council of the army, saying that it is monitoring how events unfold and will decide how to act.

2225 GMT: Evan Hill of Al Jazeera tweets

 

Crowd at State TV not that big, but more people arriving. Hard to protest with such a large army presence in such a small, barricaded area.

A protester tells us there is a march heading to the presidential palace, a potentially dangerous move.

2221 GMT: Kim Ghattas of BBC tweets

US official tells me "trying to decipher exactly what speech means, how far transfer of power goes, but this not enough for crowd on Tahrir"

2212 GMT: RA Greene of CNN tweets

Senior US official on Mubarak speech: Not what we were told would happen, not what we wanted to happen

2205 GMT: The Sunday Morning Herald of Australia reports that in a phone call with President Obama, Saudi Arabian King Abdullah has warned that if the US pulls aid from Egypt, they will step in to prop up Mubarak's government with aid from their own funds. 

The phone call apparently took place on January 29. 

2200 GMT: Protesters in Cairo and in Alexandria have been angered. Chanting has gotten so loud, it's hard to make out what exactly people are saying. 

2155 GMT: There are now reports that thousands of protesters are now moving towards state TV building in Cairo and the Ministry of Information. Army is protecting the area, but protesters are trying to get as close as possibel, chanting "Out Mubarak, Out!"  

2150 GMT: Egyptian state TV is not showing Tahrir Square after the speech by Mubarak. They were streaming live images before Mubarak's speech. 

2147 GMT: Protesters in Tahrir Square are now chanting, "Suleiman, you leave too!" 

2140 GMT: Vice President Omar Suleiman called on protesters to go home and that not to listen to satellite station who are perpetrating sedition. He added that that the President had delegated authority to him and requested from all to take part in meeting the demands of the youth. He added: 

People must have a level head now. The youth of 25 of January have demands, we have started this change to meet demands. Let us march together to make these dreams come true, love for the nation and security that is worth sacrificing for we have opened road to dialogue, roadmap for "majority" of demands.

He praised Mubarak's position and his "awareness of the gravity of the moment Egypt is going through now." He concluded that they had opened the door for dialogue and is committed to carry on transfer of power according to constitution.

2135 GMT: An EA correspondent summarises the Mubarak speech in one sentence, "Hosni showed a middle finger to the world."

2129 GMT: Reports that some in Tahrir Square are moving out, hoping to get to Presidential Palace or the State TV building. One message from a demonstrator: "Protest stopped at the army command center in sidi gaber. People are sitting on the ground."

And a summary from another protester as the Mubarak speech ended: "Angry crowds in Tahrir, watching Mubarak on big screens, waving shoes in the air. Crowd erupts speech ends. Mubarak definitely deaf."

2125 GMT: Vice President Omar Suleiman is going to address the nation on state TV in a few minutes. 

2115 GMT: So Mubarak isn't stepping down. Although he did delegate some minor powers to Vice President Omar Suleiman, the president remains very much in power. There are reports now that some peple are leaving Tahrir Square in Cairo and chanting, "Tomorrow! Tomorrow!", indicating that they will come back and protest again in a few hours when day breaks. 

2102 GMT: "I will not separate from [Egyptian] soul until I am dead and buried." And, "with peace be upon you", he finishes.

2101 GMT: Mubarak rolls on with tributes to Egyptian civilisation and an Egyptian "spirit that will live on in each of us", as he is heckled on Al Jazeera's feed from Tahrir Square.

He does not hear them: "Egypt will live on."

2100 GMT: Mubarak says it is time for all Egyptians to work together and, after a reference to handing his powers to the Vice President, says: "The will of people cannot be dented. Egypt will be back on its feet. We will not allow others to gloat over us."

2058 GMT: And now Mubarak is back to his recurrent theme of his sacrifice for Egypt since he joined the military. He has lifted Egypt's flag over Sinai and he has faced death many times: he has never bowed to foreign orders and always worked for Egypt.

Al Jazeera English is ramping up the shouts from Tahrir Square.

2057 GMT: Mubarak now moves toward his closing flourish that situation in Egypt cannot be tolerated, with economic difficulties and youth "as first victims". He says this is not about "personality" and "Hosni Mubarak", but about Egypt and its future: "All Egyptians are lying the same trench."

"Stablity and peace to our citizens," he says.

2056 GMT: Mubarak makes a brief reference to setting up conditions for lifting the Emergency Law put in place in 1981.

2054 GMT: Mubarak says he has received first report from the committee on Constitutional reform and has today proposed amendments of six Articles. These will "streamline and simplify" candidacy for Presidency and "term of office to ensure rotation of power", as well as supervision of "fair and transparent" elections" and assurance of legitimacy of Parliament.

2053 GMT: Mubarak is claiming two "independent and transparent" committees to bring reform and investigations into the events of the last two weeks.

2052 GMT: Al Jazeera English is fading in the shouts of anger and defiance from Tahrir Square, even as the translation proceeds.

2051 GMT: Mubarak says he looks forward to the "support" of all those who believe in the "reality" of the security of the Egyptian people, adding a reference to the military before declaring that there will be a "dialogue" of views "to exit the crisis" and "continue marching....into a clear road back and a specific timetable".

2050 GMT: Mubarak, saying he has taken an "oath before God", is playing the card that he has the authority and responsibility to respond to the demands of protesters while laying down a framework for transition.

2049 GMT: But now Mubarak shifts tone by saying he will not tolerate outside interference in Egyptian affairs. He continues that he has already conceded that he would not run in September's election.

So he says he has promised he will continue to "shoulder responsibility" until an elected Government is established in September.

2048 GMT: Mubarak says he recognises "legitimate" demands of protesters and will respond to them.

2045 GMT: President Mubarak begins his speech by expressing "his deep pain" over the victims of violence and says he will hold to account those who are responsible.

2040 GMT: There are reports that Mubarak is not stepping down and will only lift the country's emergency laws that have been in place for 30 years. Other reports suggest he'll transfer power to Vice President Omar Suleiman. None of these can be confirmed at the moment. 

2025 GMT: Reuters reports

The Tunisian government claims that a group of armed men responsible for the deadly shoot out in El Kef last week. They allege the men are linked to the relatives of ousted dictator Zine al-Abidine Ben ali. The report adds: 

Separately, the interim cabinet on Thursday adopted a battery of "practical mechanisms" to enable it to recover assets of figures of the ousted regime, TAP said. Once recovered, "the smuggled and plundered funds and assets" will be used for the development of mainly poorer areas in the country, it said.

2022 GMT: Unconfirmed reports are flying all over the place. The two main ones are that A) Mubarak's speech was recorded over five hours ago and B) he's expected to leave for the UAE after stepping down. 

2015 GMT: Egyptian state TV has now been showing beautiful images of diversity, greenery, patriotism and uniqueness. No word on when Mubarak's speech will be broadcasted. 

2005 GMT: Egyptian state TV is now openly showing protesters and criticizing government ministers. Why the sudden shift in tone?

2000 GMT: The Egyptian Minister of Information just told Reuters that Mubarak is not stepping down. 

1954 GMT: A group of Egyptian protesters have released a statement calling for protesters to stand in solidarity with the February 14 protests planned in Iran: 

 “Leaders of Iran's “Green Revolution" will devote tomorrow Friday in solidarity with the Egyptian people. Egyptians must respond to these honorable people by allocating the same day in solidarity with the Iranian people who suffer injustice, dictatorship and corruption,” 

1938 GMT: Activist Wael Ghonim is reportedly going back to Tahrir Square and expects regime to step down according to Christiane Amanpour of ABC. 

1932 GMT: Al Arabiya is reporting that Mubarak is going to announce constitutional procedures before stepping down. We cannot confirm this. 

1830 GMT: President Obama has made a brief statement, saying that he is following today's events in Egypt "very closely" and "witnessing history unfold". This is a "moment of transformation because the people of Egypt are calling for change", he added, "We will continue to support orderly and genuine transition to democracy".

1730 GMT: President Mubarak now reportedly meeting with Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq.

Is there a clue in this message from Saeed Ahmed of CNN, "Egypt State TV changes tone, runs promo showing protestors shaking hands with military, saying 'Egypt is Changing'."

1720 GMT: President Mubarak is currently meeting with Vice President Omar Suleiman, according to State TV.

1645 GMT: One possible signal in the "anodyne" military statement

(1530 GMT) --- the High Council is to meet "regularly".

Since the High Council has only gathered twice before, that "regularly" is being seen by some as an effective military takeover of Egypt's affairs.

1635 GMT: Lots of rumours, but no significant change in last half-hour. Nile TV has just announced that President Mubarak will speak on State TV tonight.

1600 GMT: Al Jazeera English reports that CIA Director Leon Panetta has said there is a "strong likelihood" of President Mubarak stepping down tonight.

1540 GMT: The video of Hossam Badrawi, Secretary General of the ruling NDP, saying that President Mubarak may be stepping down tonight:

1530 GMT: The Army has issued an anodyne statement offering little beyond its "commitment to safeguard people and protect interests of the nation" after the High Council meeting; however, it may be significant that Mubarak was not present and the gathering was chaired by Minister of Defense Mohamed Hussein Tantawi.

Certainly, the clamour in Tahrir Square is now overwhelming.

1520 GMT: According to Al Jazeera English, a senior army commander has told protesters in Tahrir Square that all their demands will be met.

1510 GMT: Al Jazeera reports that the High Council of the Egyptian Army is now meeting.

1500 GMT: With President Mubarak announcing that he is speaking to the nation tonight, Lindsay Hilsum of Britain's Channel 4 sends this dramatic message: "Secretary General of Mubarak's party [Hossam Badrawi] told me to expect Mubarak to announce he's stepping aside in broadcast tonight."

[

The BBC's Lyse Doucet has a slightly different report 15 minutes later, "Just spoke Badrawi NDP. Mubarak 'probably' speak tonite, & 'hopes' he hands over powers. Confirmed it's being discussed."

1245 GMT: Ahram Online reports on the march of about 5000 medical staff and students from Qasr El Aini teaching hospital to Tahrir Square, where they joined protesters as they chanted, “The people want the president to leave.”

1230 GMT: A source says MP Mamdouh Hosny, director of the Industry and Energy Committee, has resigned from the ruling National Democratic Party. Mahmoud Suleiman, the Deputy Chairman of the Chamber of Chemical Industries and a member of Parliament's Economic Committee, resigned from the NDP several days ago.

In a memorandum submitted Wednesday to Speaker of Parliament Fathi Sorour, Hosny said, “In solidarity with the legitimate demands of millions of Egyptians, in solidarity with the Egyptian youth whose blood was shed on Egyptian soil, and in solidarity with the martyrs who were killed while defending the interests of Egypt and its people, I inform you that I have resigned from the NDP, and have become an independent member of parliament.”

According to the source, Chairman of the Federation of Egyptian Industries Galal al-Zorba is being pressured to resign from his NDP post but is waiting to see how events unfold.

1215 GMT: Reporter Ian Lee sends the message, "Protesters and police square off in front of Abdeen Palace. The protesters surged forward, quickly routing the police. Police seemed skittish in front of the thousands of lawyers."

1210 GMT: In Sudan, security forces have arrested prominent government critic Mariam al-Mahdi, daughter of the Prime Minister ousted by President Omar al-Bashir in a 1989 coup.

Al-Mahdi, of the Umma Party, was arrested as she went with a group of activists to petition the security forces for the release of protesters detained almost two weeks ago.

1205 GMT: Labour protests are occurrring outside the Ministry of Civil Aviation in Cairo, where the new Government is meeting.

The head of Egypt's Journalist Syndicate, Makram Mohammed Ahmed, who has been vocal in support of the regime, has announced his indefinite leave from the union.

1150 GMT: Reports coming in of "thousands marching in front of Abdeen Palace, about 1/2 mile east of Tahrir [Square in Cairo], waving fists and flags, chanting ‘Down w/ Hosni Mubarak’".

 

A photograph of about 200 lawyers marching towards Abdeen has been posted:

1148 GMT: Minister of Interior Mahmoud Wagdy has dismissed Abdullah Saqr, chief of the Al-Wadi Al-Jadid Governorate's security department, and refer him for investigation. The decision follows clashes Tuesday and Wednesday that killed at least four people and injured at least 100. Police used tear gas and live ammunition against protesters who had set buildings on fire.

Police captain Ahmed al-Sokkari will alo face investigation.

1145 GMT: The leftist Tagammu Party has withdrawn from the talks with Egypt’s Vice President Omar Suleiman.

Tagammu is objecting to the make-up of a committee to amend the Constitution through President Mubarak, claiming that this violates the previous agreement of an independent body.

The party also claims Prime Minster Ahmed Shafiq has backtracked on an agreement to create a committee to investigate the violence on 28 January, allowing the General Prosecutor to conduct the enquiry. Tagammu also said that there is direct political interference in Egyptian media.

1050 GMT: Al Jazeera is reporting strikes and demonstrations in Assuit and the Said region of Upper Egypt, including protests at universities, at pharmaceutical and electrical companies, and in front of Government buildings.

Tahrir Square in Cairo is crowded again today. Moments ago, people cheered the arrival of white-coated group from the Physicians Syndicate.

1030 GMT: Some interesting remarks from Islam Lotfi, a lawyer and leader of the Muslim Brotherhood Youth, to The New York Times: "[Lotfi] points to pluralistic Turkey. On the question of alcohol --- forbidden by Islam --- he suggested that drinking was a private matter but that perhaps it should be forbidden in public."

But it is this paragraph that seizes attention:

 

Asked if he could imagine an Egyptian president who was a Christian woman, he paused. “If it is a government of institutions,” he said, “I don’t care if the president is a monkey.”

 

0910 GMT: Ahram Online summarises the strikes and sit-ins at State steel companies and the Suez Canal Port Authority shipyard. The site says 500 were at the National Steel protest, in addition to a sit-in at Egyptian Steel, and 1500 demonstrated at the shipyard.

0810 GMT: Ikhwanweb summarises the Wednesday press conference of leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, with the the take-away line that the Brotherhood is "not seeking power nor [does it] have any intentions of fielding any of the group's members for [the] presidency".

The leaders also said negotiations with Vice President Omar Suleiman were "nothing more than the testing of waters in an attempt to see the regime's real intentions".

The conference ended with the group, which included Essam el Erian, "reject[ing] any statements by Iran labelling the revolution as an Islamic revolution, stressing that the revolution belongs to the people and that the MB are part of the people working with them and for them". Erian continued, "The People's revolution in Egypt is by the people and for the people, and nobody else can be accredited for it."

0805 GMT: A photograph from last night's candle-light vigil for those killed in the protests:

0725 GMT: The Committee to Protect Journalists, reporting on the obstruction and intimidation of reporters in Egypt, highlights the case of blogger Abdel Karim Suleiman, also known as Kamel Amer, who has been missing since he ws seized on Monday morning.

Amer completed a four-year prison sentence on charges of insulting Islam and President Hosni Mubarak in late 2010.

0720 GMT: A scene from al-Wadi al-Jadid in southwestern Egypt, where clashes yesterday claimed at least four lives and injured at least 100:

0710 GMT: Rania Helmy snaps Egyptian policemen getting a break with some "Kentucky":

0610 GMT: It was a gentler day for headlines on Wednesday in Egypt. There was no advance in talks between the opposition and the regime, so most of the political news was actually posturing by the Government, from Vice President Suleiman's warning of a coup if the situation was not resolved to Foreign Minister Aboul Gheit's criticism of the US Government for its intervention in the crisis. The visibility of protest extended beyond Tahrir Square in Cairo, with continued demonstrations in front of Government buildings and an escalation in labour strikes, but there was no showdown in locations such as the State TV complex.

That did not mean, however, that there was no news. It simply was occurring away from cameras. In the New Valley in southeast Egypt, the battle in al-Wala al-Jadid between police and protesters claimed at least four lives and injured at least 100. And The Guardian reports from witness testimony:

The Egyptian military has secretly detained hundreds and possibly thousands of suspected government opponents since mass protests against President Hosni Mubarak began, and at least some of these detainees have been tortured.

The newspaper continues, "The Guardian has spoken to detainees who say they have suffered extensive beatings and other abuses at the hands of the military in what appears to be an organised campaign of intimidation. Human rights groups have documented the use of electric shocks on some of those held by the army."

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  • Response
    EA WorldView - Home - Egypt (and Beyond) LiveBlog: Away from the Cameras
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    Response: weblink
    Excellent Web page, Continue the good job. Thank you so much.

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