Military Vows No Force; VP to Negotiate Reform

January 31, 2011 . By

The Egyptian military decided to recognize “the legitimacy of peaceful protests” and vowed not use force against demonstrators. Many took this as a sign of the military’s waning support for President Mubarak. Meanwhile, the newly appointed Vice President, Omar Suleiman, announced on state television that he was to begin negotiating reforms with other political actors in Egypt; fighting unemployment and eliminating corruption were to receive particular emphasis.

Twitter reports claimed that over 250,000 people had gathered in Tahrir Square in Cairo; in an attempt to stifle the growth of protests, the government shut down all train services. Demonstrators in Alexandria who had planned to join the Cairo protests announced a local “march of a million” for February 1 in response to the transit shutdown. Police began to appear on the streets of Cairo again after being largely absent for two days.

February 1, 2011- Mubarak Vows to Conclude Term in Office, then Retire; Protestors Continue to Demand Immediate Resignation

Organizers called for a million people to gather in Cairo prior to a planned march to the Presidential Palace on Friday, February 4. The protesters are insisting that Mubarak steps down by February 4, which they have termed the “Friday of Departure.” Nationwide, hundreds of thousands of protesters continued to gather, demanding an end to Mubarak’s rule.

In response, Mubarak announced that while he would not stand as a candidate in the next elections, he would serve out his term in office, thus remaining President of Egypt until September. Mubarak’s televised speech was met with vehement opposition from protesters demanding his immediate resignation. U.S. President Barack Obama, commenting after Mubarak’s announcement, insisted that “an orderly transition must be meaningful, it must be peaceful, and it must begin now.”

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay indicated that the death toll in Egypt over the last week had possibly reached 300, with more than 3,000 injured.