Egypt

Tahrir Square holds its breath for Mubarak announcement

Reuters

There is increasing speculation on Thursday that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak will step down. The atmosphere in Cairo’s Tahrir Square intensified as protesters awaited an announcement. Egypt’s Prime Minister has said Mubarak is still in power and no decision has been made while the army has said it is monitoring the situation and is examining measures necessary to protect the nation.

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“Everything is in President Hosni Mubarak’s hands, and no decision has been taken yet,” Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq told Egyptian television, according to the Mena state news agency.

Mubarak is expected to address the nation live on television from the presidential palace in Cairo later on Thursday. It is thought that Mubarak is currently meeting Vice President Omar Suleiman.

In a statement entitled “Communique No.1” read on Egyptian television the Supreme Council of Egyptian Armed Forces said it will continue to monitor the situation and was ready to “examine measures to be taken to protect the nation”, according to reports from Al-Jazeera.

During an event in Michigan, United States President Barack Obama said they will have more to say on the situation as it "plays out" while acknowledging that they were "witnessing history unfold".

Earlier US Central Intelligence Agency Director Leon Panetta said there was a “strong likelihood” that Mubarak would go.

When asked about speculation that he would leave Panetta said, “I got the same information you did, that there’s a strong likelihood that Mubarak may step down this evening.” She said that she assumed that power will be handed over to Suleiman.

Cairo correspondent Alexandre Buccianti told RFI that "people are cheering and chanting patriot songs in Tahrir Square because they think they have won".

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