What next after Mubarak’s last ditch offer?
Mubarak said he would leave office in September. He promised to deliver political reforms, which he has studiously dodged for 30 years, in his remaining months.
February 2, 2011 12:16 by Reuters
* WHAT HAPPENS IF MUBARAK IS FORCED OUT?
Broadly, there are two routes this could go if Mubarak is forced aside. One route keeps the military in charge, either through installing Mubarak’s newly appointed vice president, Omar Suleiman, or another commander if he proves unacceptable. The other route would involve various permutations of a transitional government, probably involving close cooperation with the military initially until elections are arranged and a fully civilian government takes office.
* CAN THE MILITARY HOLD ON TO POWER?
The core of the demonstrators insist Suleiman, hastily made Mubarak’s deputy as protests spun out of control, and anyone else close to Mubarak, would not be acceptable. “Hosni Mubarak, Omar Suleiman, both of you are agents of the Americans,” they chanted.
The view of opposition groups who have been gradually aligning as they scent victory is less clear. Though they would not be happy with Suleiman staying as president, some include his name among those who could form a “council of trustees” in an initial transitional period to prepare for free elections.
If not Suleiman, the military could try to lever another figure into the presidency — Chief of Staff Sami Enan’s name often crops up. But that would be a tough stunt to pull off if the Egyptian military wants to keep on the right side of the United States and continue to receive $1.3 billion in U.S. military aid. Under one scenario, Egypt could follow the example of Sudan in 1985, when public unrest led to a coup and an interim military leader led Sudan to elections the next year.
* IF NOT THE MILITARY, THEN WHO?
Egypt’s registered opposition parties have been weakened, fractured or compromised under Mubarak. Protest groups that have sprung up in recent years have proved far more nimble and have been quickly rallying as Mubarak’s grip has appeared to weaken. Some influential individuals have also emerged, retired diplomat Mohamed ElBaradei or intellectual Ahmed Zewail, both Nobel Prize winners. But their common political ground may not extend much further than their goal to oust Mubarak. They could splinter as fast as they grouped when it comes to the gritty details of drawing up policy for government.