Concessions or cosmetics? Charting Mubarak's release of power
Protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square watch on a large screen as President Hosni Mubarak announces he won't seek re-election.
February 5th, 2011
08:00 PM ET

Concessions or cosmetics? Charting Mubarak's release of power

Check out a complete timeline of the unrest in Egypt.

It's been almost two weeks since 20,000 protesters spilled into the streets of Cairo in an unprecedented display of anti-government rage, inspired in part by revolts in Tunisia that forced the collapse of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's 23-year rule.

Organizers of the January 25 protests that triggered the unrest chose that day - Police Day - to highlight the role of police corruption in addition to frustrations over the rising cost of living and failed economic policies. But all those concerns were distilled into one overriding demand: the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak, who has survived would-be assassins and illness, crushed a rising Islamist radical movement and maintained the peace with neighboring Israel that got his predecessor killed to rule Egypt for three decades. (More on Mubarak's reign)

Initially, it appeared that Mubarak had no intention of abandoning his post. Over time, he has taken steps that appear to some as gradual steps toward relinquishing power, and to others, mere gestures. Below we chart the major events in the apparent tide of transition:

January 29 - In a speech shortly after midnight, Mubarak announces that he has asked his cabinet to resign and acknowledges the "legitimate demand" for political and economic reforms. He gives no indication that he plans to step down.

Later Saturday, the Egyptian cabinet presents its resignation in response to Mubarak's request. Ahmed Shafik, a minister from the cabinet that resigned, is appointed to form a new government, state TV reported. Omar Suleiman, a former head of intelligence, is appointed presidential deputy, or vice president.

Egypt's ruling party accepts the resignation of Ahmed Ezz, who was one of its senior leaders and a close confidant of Mubarak's son, according to state-run Nile TV.

January 31 - On the eve of a planned "march of millions," Vice President Omar Suleiman announces the government has begun discussions with opposition parties on "constitutional reform and legislation," promising plans will be drawn up "expeditiously."

February 1 - Mubarak announces he will not seek a new term in September's elections, saying he had "spent enough time serving Egypt," but vows to stay in the country and finish his current term.

"I will pursue the transfer of power in a way that will fulfill the people's demands, and that this new government will fulfill the people's demands and their hopes for political, economic and social progress," he said.

"My first responsibility now is to restore the stability and security of the homeland, to achieve a peaceful transition of power in an environment that will protect Egypt and Egyptians, and which will allow for the responsibility to be given to whoever the people elect in the forthcoming elections," Mubarak said in a televised address Tuesday night.

The announcement fell flat in Cairo's Tahrir Square, where thousands of protesters erupted in chants of "Down with Mubarak!" and "The people want the president to be judged!" Some waved shoes in the air - a deep insult in the Arab world - and said they would continue their demonstrations until Mubarak quits outright.

Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel Peace Prize winner who has become a leading opposition figure, said Mubarak's decision was "an act of deception" that would only "extend the agony."

February 3 - Mubarak tells ABC News that he's fed up and would like to resign but fears his immediate resignation would plunge Egypt into further chaos.

February 5 - Key members of the embattled ruling party, including President Hosni Mubarak's once heir-apparent son, resign their party leadership posts as the vice begins began talks with opposition leaders. In the strongest gesture yet to satisfy angry Egyptians who have been protesting for 12 days, members of the general secretariat of the ruling National Democratic Party stepped down from those leadership positions, state television reported.

The restructuring included the elevation of Housam Badrawi, a more liberal-minded politician who is taking over as the ruling party's secretary-general. Gamal Mubarak's resignation effectively puts to rest a widespread belief that the embattled president was preparing for a dynastic handover.

Mubarak's foes questioned whether the moves are meaningful or merely cosmetic.

ElBaradei dismissed the resignations as another in a series of small, hiccuping reforms. Mubarak, he said, has shown no sign he understands the people want a complete overhaul.

"It's about the whole shift to democracy," said ElBaradei, a Nobel laureate whose National Association for Change wants to see an immediate change in power. "I'm ready to engage when we believe that Mr. Mubarak is ready to step down."

Demonstrators on the streets also felt Mubarak was just trying to appease the people.

"This is just part of the drama that the regime is playing, a maneuver, just a sedative to calm down the masses," said Mohammed Mahmoud in the coastal city of Alexandria. "We need a peaceful transition and we know very well what the regime is trying to do. They are trying to buy time, so they can smuggle their money out of the country, the money that they robbed from the Egyptian people all these years."

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Filed under: Egypt
soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. Jim Mooney

    If Mubarak goes, our choice (wrong as usual), Sulieman takes over. Sulieman is head of the hated secret police – responsible for beatings, torture, illegal detention, murder, and rendition. How is that an improvement. They All need to go.

    February 5, 2011 at 9:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • monmon

      your suggestion would be great if the alternative is any better , if it is not suleiman , then the next strong , and widely accepted regime would be the muslim brotherhood , which would only carry grief to so many.

      February 5, 2011 at 11:44 pm | Report abuse |
  2. morristhewise

    It will take more than a get out of jail card to free the Egyptian people. In a nation of over 80 million, the economy can only produce 20 million jobs.  Freedom means giving the deadbeats an opportunity to rip off the 20 million upbeats.

    February 5, 2011 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • daws

      Yeah I'm sure it's their own fault that they can't get a job... >.<

      February 5, 2011 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
  3. josh

    I didn't know Mubarak is such a great man.

    February 5, 2011 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Texan

    What is sad that democracy/freedom/fundamental human rights of the entire region are held hostage simply for the perceived security of Israel. The 9/11 attackers were from Saudi, where Sharia law is implemented, Women cant drive, Churches cant be built, Saudi money funds terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan but hey, as long as Israel is safe, who cares that the ideology behind Al-Qaeda can continue to develop and blossom in the repressive environments we support. Mark my words, Violent extremist Islam spreads like a cancer from places where the people are oppressed (unable to live freely) as a reaction to the oppression (Iran, Saudi, Afghanistan). But hey, as long as Israel is safe, who cares!

    February 6, 2011 at 12:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Thinker23

      Let me understand... You're saying that as long as violent dictators and terrorists like Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, etc. rule the Arabs Israel is safe but that it will so mow become "not safe" in case it's Arab neighbors will become PEACEFUL democracies? Are you being sarcastic?

      February 6, 2011 at 8:34 am | Report abuse |
  5. pockets

    The Egyptian people know what is best for them, they have suffered at the hands of the despot long enough. Mubarack has 40 to 70 BILLION DOLLARS, waiting for him and his wife and family. They are wealthy beyond belief, it is the Egyptian people who have been starved along with their children. Follow the money and confiscate it and put it back in the coffers for the people of Egypt.

    February 6, 2011 at 1:39 am | Report abuse |
  6. Mark Olsen

    Mubarak has not resigned and he shouldn't; the country would fall in the hands of radical islamists, the Muslim Brotherhood, from where Alqaeda, Hezbollas and Iranain ayatollas come from, because they are the only group, with money and organization, other than the government.
    Mubarack has harassed Christians and made there life quite miserable,trying to please the Muslim Brotherhood, but the Muslim Brothers are 100% worse, with their sharia and blasphemy laws of hate to the infidels, that is all of us, who are not muslims.

    February 7, 2011 at 12:45 am | Report abuse |
  7. Mark Olsen

    Arabs only know authoritarian governments. After Mubarak, if they have lections, the Egyptians will choose a dictorship of the Muslim Brotherhood with sharia, blasphemy laws, and total disrespect for women. 50% of the country are illiterate peasants who have been forced to learned the koran by heart, and they do not know any better.

    February 7, 2011 at 1:03 am | Report abuse |
  8. manawadalla

    ONE THING THEY DONT UNDERSTAND AS LONG AS TAHRIR HEROS LL DIE DEFENDING THEIR COUNTRY FROM THE CRIMINALS WE LL WIN HE LL GO

    February 7, 2011 at 4:28 am | Report abuse |