International Affairs

Mubarak ‘may be stepping down’

CAIRO: Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak will transfer power to Vice-President Omar Suleiman, according to a senior member of Egypt’s governing party. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) quoted Hossan Badrawi, the secretary-general of the National Democratic Party (NDP), as saying Mubarak would “most probably” speak to the nation tonight.The president has been buffeted by widespread protests against poverty, repression and corruption in the most populous Arab nation.

The BBC’s website earlier said the scenario of Mubarak stepping down was being discussed. Thursday is the 17th day of protests against Mubarak’s 30-year rule. The BBC’s senior correspondent in Cairo Lyse Doucet, said the fact that Mubarak’s departure is even being discussed is a huge development.

Military and ruling party officials said Mubarak would speak to the nation soon and meet the demands of protesters. Protesters are insisting he step down immediately. Military officials say the armed forces’ supreme council has been meeting all day long and will issue a communique shortly that they say will meet the protesters’ demands.

Few Arab Tv Channels are claiming that Hosni Mubarak has left the country. While The meeting of the Higher Army Council was headed by the defence minister and Mubarak was not present, according to television footage. Also the state news agency MENA confirmed.

Organisers are planning another protest on streets and will move to the state radio and television building in on Friday to celebrate “The Day of Martyrs” dedicated to the dead which the United Nations says could number 300.

Washington has pressured Mubarak to speed up the pace of reform but has stopped short of demanding the resignation of the president of Egypt which has a peace treaty with Israel and an army which receives about $1.3 billion in US aid a year.

Input from Agencies

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Mubashar Nizam

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