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Analyst: No Sign Egyptian President Mubarak Will Step Down

  • Peter Clottey

Demonstrators gather during a protest against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak outside the Egyptian embassy in Paris, January 31, 2011

Demonstrators gather during a protest against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak outside the Egyptian embassy in Paris, January 31, 2011

An Egyptian political analyst told VOA there are no indications that beleaguered President Hosni Mubarak will step down and cede power, despite popular demands by protesters he do so.

Gamal Nkrumah, who is also editor of the Al Ahram newspaper in Egypt, said, despite increasing pressure, President Mubarak clings to power.

“There is absolutely no sign [Mr. Mubarak will resign]. The cabinet has been announced [and it] has many, many of the old faces. The only serious changes have been the prime minister, who was discredited as corrupt, Ahmed Nazef, and the Minister of Interior, the Home Minister, whose image has been tainted and who is especially loathed in Egypt,” said Nkrumah.

The protesters are calling for a larger protest Tuesday, a million-person march in the capital, Cairo. Meanwhile, the Egyptian military said Monday it recognizes the “legitimate demands” of the Egyptian people and it vowed not to “use force” against the public.

The military statement Monday comes as tens of thousands of Egyptians continue to protest in Cairo's Tahrir Square defying the fourth night of a government-imposed curfew, as they continue to press for an end to President Mubarak's nearly 30-year rule.

Egypt's newly-appointed vice president said on state television that Mr. Mubarak has asked him to begin an immediate dialogue with all “political forces” for constitutional and legislative reforms.

Omar Suleiman, a longtime confidant of Mr. Mubarak, did not say what the changes would entail or which groups the government will contact.

Nkrumah said the protesters seem disinterested with President Mubarak’s gesture with the installation of a new government.

He also said there are concerns in western countries, especially in Washington that hard-line Islamists will take over power if President Mubarak succumbs to protesters’ demands to step down.

“The people in charge of the people’s revolution now taking Egypt by storm are young secularist people, who are not Islamists. I think what the West is afraid of is that, for the past three decades, President Mubarak and his governments have been the chief allies of the West in terms of keeping the peace with Israel,” said Nkrumah.

“What they are afraid of in the West, in Washington in particular, is that, if the people power revolution reaches its logical conclusion, what we will see is a government that is not necessarily Islamist…It is not just the Islamists that are anti-Israel; secularists, the left, socialists, youngsters, who do not even identify themselves as political activists, are anti-Israel.”

The White House has called for “a change in the way the country works,” but stopped short of saying that its president must step down.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Monday the United States advocates an “orderly transition” in Egypt. But, he refused to say whether this would require the removal of Mr. Mubarak.

The spokesman said Washington wants “meaningful negotiations” among all groups in Egypt and repeated the Obama administration's call for free and fair elections. He added that the United States would not determine, or dictate, when or how change happens in Egypt.