Egypt’s president Hosni Mubarak is to announce he will step down at the next election, according to reports.
Mubarak, the focus of millions of protesting Egyptians, would make the announcement in a speech today, reported Al Arabiya TV.
At least one million people have rallied across Egypt clamouring for Mubarak to give up power, piling pressure on a leader who has towered over Middle East politics for 30 years to make way for a new era of democracy in the Arab nation.
Cairo’s Tahrir (Liberation) Square was jammed with people ranging from lawyers and doctors to students and jobless poor, the crowd spilling into surrounding streets.
Two dictators toppled in a month is almost a trend. In Jordan, the King has sacked his Government to try and placate protesters – will that be enough?
In terms of Egypt, the focus will be on who serves as interim President, and once elections are held, which parties form the Government.
The military, which has run Egypt since it toppled King Farouk in 1952, will be the key player in deciding who replaces him. Analysts expect it to retain significant power while introducing enough reforms to defuse the protests.
Armed forces chief of staff Sami Enan could be an acceptable leader, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood said.
Enan, who has good ties with Washington, was a liberal who could be seen as suitable by the nascent opposition coalition, prominent overseas cleric Kamel El-Helbawy told Reuters.
“He can be the future man of Egypt,” Helbawy said. “The people do not know him (as corrupt).”
A liberal with good ties to Washington sounds pretty good to me.