Defiant Mubarak aims to stick to power

Defiant Mubarak aims to stick to power

He has appointed intelligence chief Omar Suleiman  as his vice-president, former Airforce chief as premier and general Mah Moud Wagdy as interior minister.

However, most egyptians do not believe that Mubarak can use the army, the sole functioning state institution, against the people. This could divide the army high command and could prompt the rank and file, lads from the provinces and villages, to join the protests.

The generals also have to consider their position. Hisham Kassem, a leading Cairo commentator, told Deccan Herald that the generals would have to choose between obeying the orders of the president and commander-in-chief of 30 years and the masses of Egyptians who are demanding their democratic rights.  This choice is particularly difficult since Mubarak 82 and in poor health, is due to step down in September.

Dr Youssef Zakki a University professor, observed that both sides are very stubborn. This makes the confrontation dangerous because the army could split, precipitating civil conflict.

So far the regime has tried to prevent the protesters from gathering by disrupting the communications of organisers by turning off the internet and mobile phone.  The authorities have also blocked mobile text messaging and unleashed uniformed and plain clothes elements of the security police on demonstrators. 

Many arrested

Hundreds of protesters have been arrested in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez while nearly 200 have been killed and scores injured.  But deaths and injuries have not halted the protests.

According to a well connected source, Mubarak is determined to cling to power whatever the cost.  He is president and he intends to die in office after installing his cronies in key positions, thereby defeating the protesters.  So far, Mubarak has had the rather lukewarm backing of Western powers, fearing that he might be succeeded by the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest opposition movement.  But this would never happen, stated Kassem.  The Brotherhood commands the support of no more than 10 per cent of the 80 million Egyptians, and the Brotherhood and the traditional secular Opposition parties are tainted by their cooperation over the years with the Mubarak regime.

While the protesters insist that they will not accept Mubarak’s new government, Kassem argues that the demonstrators will have to submit to the will of a majority of Egyptians and agree to a transitional government led by Suleiman.  He argued 75 per cent of Egyptians want stability and peace on the domestic front and are frightened by ongoing unrest. 

However, for the time being the protesters are setting the agenda and they are not ready to back away from their demand for an end to the Mubarak regime and a whole.
 The regime has closed banks, courts and the stock market where Kassem observed, some $18 billion has been lost.  Consequently, the government is under serious pressure to wrap up the protests as quickly as possible.  But the protesters are determined to carry on until Mubarak is no longer in Power.

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