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Q&A: What’s next in Egypt’s anti-government protests?

Q&A: What’s next in Egypt’s anti-government protests?

Markets across the region have dropped as the Egypt crisis escalates. Read this quick-fire analysis of what is expected next inside the country.

January 30, 2011 11:10 by

Egypt’s president has brought the military and security establishment closer to the centre of power with the ultimate aim of securing their loyalty in the worst crisis to have rocked his rule.

President Hosni Mubarak named Omar Suleiman, his intelligence chief and confidant, as his No. 2 on Saturday, triggering speculation that he could be edging toward a military-approved handover of power.

So what’s next? Following are some questions and answers:


Mubarak’s decision to pick Suleiman gave a clear indication that the Egyptian leader understands the magnitude of the social and political upheaval that has gripped his country.

Five days of unrest have forced Mubarak to make the long-delayed move of picking a deputy, signalling that his days in power may be numbered and that he may not run in a presidential election scheduled for September.

With protests keeping the momentum and his army and police failing to quell running battles in the streets, the pressure seems to have grown on the 82-old president from allies and aides to prepare for a transition.

Mubarak’s legitimacy has all but evaporated under the overwhelming unrest in which 74 people have been killed and more than 2,000 injured.

It has also diminished the probability that he or his son Gamal, who has been lined up as a possible contender, would run in this year’s presidential election.

“Mubarak has been damaged. I can’t see how this is not the beginning of the end of Mubarak’s presidency,” said Jon Alterman, Director of the Middle East Programme for the Center of International Studies.

“It seems that his task now is to try and manage the transition past his leadership. I have a hard time believing that he will be the president in a year.”

So far protesters responded to the announcement by stepping up anti-government demonstrators.

Witnesses reported seeing looters ransacking and setting public buildings on fire. Nothing less than Mubarak stepping down can quell the unrest, some said.

“The story of Gamal and Mubarak is over. Now, the regime is looking for who will rescue it. Mubarak, Omar Suleiman and Ahmed Shafiq know each other on a personal level,” said Safwat Zayat, a military analyst.

“Their task in the coming months would be to ensure Mubarak’s safety until the end of his reign. They will reorganise the regime’s internal affairs.”

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