As we watch on Al Jazeera the thousands and thousands in Tahrir Square pause for evening prayers, Mubarak is in crisis meetings and has sworn in “the spy chief” Omar Suleiman, nation’s intelligence chief, Vice President. Suleiman is from the military and has been considered a presidential candidate in the past but it’s unlikely the people in the streets will see this as sufficient change and Al Jazeera reports that protesters who heard the announcement are responding with chants for Mubarak to go and insisting Suleiman is not enough.
The Al Jazeera anchor has questioned a spokesperson for the NDP as to why this move would be acceptable to the Egyptian people but the NDP answer is to describe the protesters as “the mobs.” The Al Jazeera anchor’s interview should be a lesson to our media as she reminds him that “these are not mobs, these are everday Egyptian people.”
The Muslim Brotherhood meanwhile has called for Mubarak to step down and a transitional unity government to be established without participation of Mubarak’s NDP party:
The Muslim Brotherhood has called for a national interim government in which the ruling party should be excluded, according to a statement posted Saturday on the group’s website.
Their spokesman on Al Jazeera said earlier that “no one party can properly represent the people” in the streets and “the MB does not intend to present a presidential candidate” but to support change. They note that “the US and some western regimes use the MB as a scarecrow” and want to make it clear that the MB does not intend to be a part of any government, only call for a truly democratic government.
This statement was underscored by a statement to Reuters from:
Veteran of Egypt’s main opposition movement Kamel El-Helbawy said the 1978 peace treaty with Israel might also be safe in Egypt post-Mubarak if Egyptians felt it delivered justice to all parties.
“A new era of freedom and democracy is dawning in the Middle East and Arab world,” Helbawy, an influential cleric in the international Islamist ideological movement, said in an interview in London, where he has lived since 1994.
“That’s more important than declaring that a ‘new Islamist era is dawning’, because I know Islamists would not be able to rule Egypt alone. We should and would cooperate — Muslims, leftists, communists, socialists, secularists.”
“Dictators like Mubarak have always told the West, wrongly, there is no difference between Islamists like the Brotherhood and some violent groups who are real fundamentalists.”
ElBaradei seems to be on the same wavelength:
Reform leader Mohamed ElBaradei said Saturday the Egyptian people have stated their one and only demand, which is for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to step down. The Egyptian people aspire to build a democratic and modern state, he said
Injuries and deaths from yesterday are higher than previously known. Al Masry reports:
The death toll so far during Cairo’s days of protests is much higher than reported in the news, according to doctors at one of Cairo’s largest hospitals.
A resident doctor at the hospital who was assisting with surgeries yesterday told Al-Masry Al-Youm today that most of those admitted were not wounded, but dead. He estimated the number at more than 50.
The doctor said the wounds were from live bullets, not rubber bullets, and most appeared to be aimed at the head and heart, leading him to believe that orders to the riot police were to kill, not injure, the tens of thousands of protesters who took to the streets in anti-government protests this week.
Update: Former Air Chief of Staff Ahmed Shifik appointed Prime Minister.
Update: The Guardian reports a new State Department statement sent via Twitter:
The US state department is pressing Mubarak to do more than rejig his government. Spokesman PJ Crowley said on Twitter:
The Egyptian government can’t reshuffle the deck and then stand pat. President Mubarak’s words pledging reform must be followed by action.
The people of Egypt no longer accept the status quo. They are looking to their government for a meaningful process to foster real reform.
With protesters still on the streets of Egypt, we remain concerned about the potential for violence and again urge restraint on all sides.
Apparently, the State Department still feels that Mubarak can stay with “reform” which seems to continue to miss the point.