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Over two Million in Cairo Demand Mubarak to Step Down

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As this is being written, while looking at live streaming reports from Al Jazerra/English coming from Cairo, Egypt, it shows a sea of some two million people gathered peaceably in Tahrir Square demonstrating and expressing their main demand which is for Hosni Mubarak to step down. In countless interviews people there say they will remain in the square until he does stand down.

Last night in a live televised address, a military spokesman announced the army will not use force against citizens staging protests to force President Hosni Mubarak to step down.

He said, "The presence of the army in the streets is for your sake and to ensure your safety and well being. The armed forces will not resort to use force against our great people. Your armed forces who are aware of the legitimacy of your demands and are keen to assume their responsibility in protecting the nation and the citizens, affirms that freedom of expression through peaceful means is guaranteed to everybody."

This was the first explicit statement by the army since the protests broke out one week ago.

The statement seems to have had a galvanizing effect on the Egyptians (with evermore people joining the demonstrations in Cairo, Alexandria et al and many for the first time) now knowing the army is in support of these "organic" demonstrations.

In Alexandria, Egypt's second city over 250,000 people were massing there as shown in a live streaming report.

Economically the country is at a standstill with schools, universities, businesses, the stock market all closed.

The military has set up a number of checkpoints leading into Tahrir Square checking people's personal belongings to prevent entry of anyone carrying weapons; a precaution that people are readily accepting.

From here, the atmosphere in the square seems one of cheering resolve of all those gathered there. It is a leaderless outpouring of Egyptians young and old, men and women, secular and religious determined by their presence to be counted and get what they most want which is for Mubarak to step down.

Last evening Egyptian state television reported Mubarak ordered his new vice president, Omar Suleiman to negotiate with all representatives of opposition groups to hear their grievances to resolve the crisis. At this point no representatives of any groups have come forward. It seems apparent that Mubarak himself has to step down as a prerequisite before any negotiations can begin.

It seems clear Mubarak's situation is untenable yet it appears he is the only one left in the country that hasn't reached that conclusion.


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