Cairo: Massive crowds thronged the
streets of Egypt in what they called the "final stage" of
their campaign to topple an autocratic regime, laying a siege
at the presidential palace, as reports indicated that a
defiant President Hosni Mubarak may have left Cairo for the
southern resort city of Sharm-el-Shaikh.
Their elation turning into despair after Mubarak
refused to budge from his position last night, the crowds
moved out from the Tahrir Square on the 18th day of their
protests, marching to the presidential palace and surrounding
the state television building, institutions they consider
symbols of the regime.
As protests were held throughout the country with
workers unions, journalists and clerics too joining in,
reports indicated that Mubarak had left Cairo along with his
family and was headed to an undisclosed location, Al Jazeera
Some reports said he may be bound for his residence at
the Red Sea resort of Sharm al-Shaikh.
Earlier in the day, the Army appeared to throw its
weight behind Mubarak`s transition plan, assuring the
protesters that it will guarantee a free and fair election in
September, and asking them to go home and get to work.
Hugely disappointed by the military`s stand, the
protesters pledged to take their campaign to a final stage,
calling on millions to join the street protests on a `Farewell
The developments came a day after Mubarak appeared on
television and dashed the hopes of the people by reiterating
that he will step down only in September. The 82-year-old
also announced that he would be transferring some of his
powers to Vice President Omar Suleiman.
The `Go Mubarak, Go Suleiman` cry growing shriller,
the infuriated protesters marched to the Abedeen palace after
Friday prayers and almost laid a siege to it, amid a heavy
At the state television building, thousands blocked
people from entering or leaving, accusing the broadcaster of
supporting the current government and of not truthfully
reporting on protests.
Tanks and military personnel have been deployed to
bolster barricades around the presidential palace though there
were no indications yet that the military intends to launch a
In a statement on state television earlier, the
military had promised to lift a 30-year-old emergency law "as
soon as the current circumstances end", besides assuring
people that it would guarantee changes to the constitution.
But, the statement disappointed many people who
vowed to take the protests to "a last and final stage".