Depressingly, dictator Hosni Mubarak is refusing to step down from power. From the NY Times:
President Hosni Mubarak told the Egyptian people Thursday that he would delegate authority to his vice president, Omar Suleiman, but that he would not resign, enraging hundreds of thousands gathered to hail his departure and setting the stage for what protesters promised would be the largest demonstrations since the uprising began last month.
The declaration by Mr. Mubarak that he would remain president marked another pivotal turn in the largest popular revolt in Egypt’s history, and some protesters warned that weeks of peaceful protests might give way to violence as early as Friday’s demonstrations. The 17-minute speech itself underlined the yawning gap between ruler and ruled in Egypt: Mr. Mubarak, in paternalistic tones, talked specifics of constitutional reform, while sprawling crowds in Tahrir Square, in a mix of bewilderment and anger, demanded he step down.
“It’s not about Hosni Mubarak,” he said.
After the speech, the mood in Tahrir Square, celebratory throughout the day, suddenly turned grim, as angry protesters waved their shoes in defiance — considered a deeply insulting gesture in the Arab world — and began chanting “Leave! Leave!”
Mohamed ElBaradei, the opposition leader and Nobel laureate, called for the military to intervene to avoid an outbreak of violence. “Egypt will explode,” he wrote on his Twitter account. “Army must save the country now.”
Mubarak is playing with fire, and given he doesn’t have full support from the military, it may not be long before the Egyptian people forcibly remove him from power. This is a crisis of his own making, and he had a choice to end it with minimun violence. Sadly, like all dictators drunk on power, he has chosen to prolong the inevitable at the expense of human life, all in the name of his own ego.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.