Anti-government protesters are filling Cairo's Tahrir Square as events take a rapid turn after 17 days of protests calling for the ouster of long-time President Hosni Mubarak. The Egyptian leader, who has led this country for nearly three decades, is expected to make an announcement Thursday night, after military and ruling party officials said he will meet the protesters' demands.
They got a hint of what might be coming when an army commander told the demonstrators on the square that the president was going to meet their demands. The announcement was followed by cheers among the thousands of demonstrators.
Mubarak was expected to make an announcement in the late hours.
A spokesman for the military's supreme command went on state television and announced a session was under way. Neither Mubarak nor his vice president were present.
The army official said the command is discussing what measures and arrangements could be made to safeguard the nation, its achievements and what he described as the ambitions of its great people.
It was not immediately clear what these measures could be. The army has maintained its positions around central Cairo, setting up checkpoints to keep the sometimes violent demonstrations from escalating over the past two weeks.
The army enjoys respect in Egypt, and among the reasons for this is because it has no history of attacking its own people.
Elections are scheduled for September, and Mubarak had said he would not seek reelection. That statement a few days ago did nothing to stop the protests.
Some people said they would count on the army to maintain order during a transition. As the army announced what appeared to be imminent changes, Egypt's information minister said Mubarak was still in office.
In the evening hours of Thursday, the demonstrators, and all of Egypt waited to see what the future holds.
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