msnbc.com staff and news service reports

Egypt's anti-government protesters, sensing victory after President Hosni Mubarak agreed to discuss sweeping political reforms, rallied support for what they hope can be a million-strong march for democracy on Tuesday.

Mubarak's newly appointed vice-president began talks with opposition figures and the army declared the protesters demands "legitimate" and said it would hold its fire.

But protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square, where thousands kept vigil through the night in defiance of a curfew, vowed to continue their campaign until the 82-year-old Mubarak quit.

"The only thing we will accept from him is that he gets on a plane and leaves," said 45-year-old lawyer Ahmed Helmi.

Pressure from seven days of street demonstrations, Western allies and the army appeared to portend the unraveling of Mubarak's 30 years of one-man rule.

"The presence of the army in the streets is for your sake and to ensure your safety and well-being, said an army statement. "The armed forces will not resort to use of force against our great people."

  1. Related content
    1. Concessions in Egypt before march of a million
    2. Cairo airport a 'zoo' as foreigners flee
    3. Live updates on the crisis in Egypt
    4. NYT: Protest’s old guard falls in behind young
    5. NYT: Israel shaken as turbulence rocks an ally
    6. Clinton urges 'transition to a democratic regime'
    7. What you need to know about the crisis in Egypt

But military spokesman Ismail Etman also warned against "any act that destabilizes security of the country."

Vice President Omar Suleiman appeared on state television to say Mubarak had asked him to begin dialogue with all political forces on constitutional and other reforms.

The channel later said talks had begun.

Suleiman also said a new government sworn in by Mubarak on Monday would fight unemployment, inflation and corruption — all key grievances. The new government will review whether the last elections, in 2005, were legitimate, he said.

Suleiman, a longtime Mubarak confidant, did not say what the changes would entail or which groups the government would speak with. Opposition forces have long demanded a lifting of strict restrictions on who is eligible to run for president to allow a real challenge to the ruling party, as well as measures to ensure elections are fair. A presidential election is scheduled for September.

The protest death toll was at least 150, Al Jazeera TV network said.

The new government lineup sworn in Monday was greeted with scorn from Tahrir Square — whose name in Arabic means "Liberation" — to Washington, D.C.

Opponents ranging from young, secular dissidents to a mass Islamist movement want Mubarak to quit altogether. They hope to rally a million people onto the streets Tuesday.

More than 10,000 people beat drums, played music and chanted slogans in Tahrir Square, which has become ground zero of protests demanding the ouster of the 82-year-old president.

The vibe in the sprawling plaza — whose name in Arabic means "Liberation" — was intensifying with the feeling that the upheaval was nearing a decisive point. "He only needs a push," was one of the most frequent chants. One leaflet circulated by protesters said it was time for the military to choose between Mubarak and the people.

"We don't want life to go back to normal until Mubarak leaves," said Israa Abdel-Fattah, a founder of the April 6 Group, a movement of young people pushing for democratic reform.

"It's almost the same government, as if we are not here, as if we are sheep," sneered one protester, Khaled Bassyouny, a 30-year-old Internet entrepreneur. He said it was time to escalate the marches. "It has to burn. It has to become ugly. We have to take it to the presidential palace."

Video: Egyptian army called on to quell protests

Tahrir Square, surrounded by army tanks and barbed wire, was celebratory and determined as more protesters filtered in to join what has turned into a continual Cairo encampment despite a curfew, moved up an hour to 3 p.m. on its fourth day in effect. Some protesters played music, others distributed dates and other food to their colleagues or watched the latest news on TVs set up on sidewalks.

Young men climbed lampposts to hang Egyptian flags and signs proclaiming "Leave, Mubarak!" One poster featured Mubarak's face plastered with a Hitler mustache, a sign of the deep resentment toward the 82-year-old leader they blame for widespread poverty, inflation and official indifference and brutality during his 30 years in power.

Ahmed Sami, 16, choked back tears as he explained why he and his father joined tens of thousands of protesters.

"I want to live in a democracy, in social justice. I want to choose my parliament," he said. Flush with idealism, he added that any Egyptian, including himself, should have the chance to run for president.

Looting eases
Looting that erupted over the weekend across the city of around 18 million eased — but Egyptians endured another day of the virtual halt to normal life that the crisis has caused. Trains stopped running Monday, raising the possibility authorities were trying to prevent residents of the provinces from joining protests in the capital.

Banks, schools and the stock market in Cairo were closed for the second working day, making cash tight. An unprecedented complete shutdown of the Internet was in its fourth day. Long lines formed outside bakeries as people tried to replenish their stores of bread.

 

Video: U.S. nationals being evacuated from Egypt

U.S.: Election needed
On Monday the White House called for free and fair elections in Egypt, but refused to say whether the U.S. believes President Hosni Mubarak should run in those contests.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs dismissed Mubarak's new government, saying the situation in Egypt calls for action, not appointments.

Gibbs also said the U.S. Embassy in Cairo has not been in contact with opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei this week. Egypt's government put ElBaradei on house arrest after he returned to the country amid the protests.

The grievances of the Egyptian people needed to be addressed, Gibbs said.

Former U.S. ambassador to Egypt, Frank Wisner, is in Cairo and "has the ability" to talk to Egyptian leaders, U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said later Monday.

Crowley gave no details of who Wisner, the ambassador to Egypt from 1986-1991, would meet but said he would have the opportunity to reinforce the U.S. message to Egypt.

Mubarak's naming of a new Cabinet appeared to be aimed at showing the regime is willing to an extent to listen to the popular anger. The most significant change was the replacement of the interior minister, Habib el-Adly, who heads internal security forces and is widely despised by protesters for the brutality some officers have shown. A retired police general, Mahmoud Wagdi, will replace him.

Of the 29-member Cabinet, 14 were new faces, most of them not members of the ruling National Democratic Party. Among those purged were several of the prominent businessmen who held economic posts and have engineered the country's economic liberalization policies the past decades. Many Egyptians resented the influence of millionaire politician-moguls, who were close allies of the president's son, Gamal Mubarak, long thought to be the heir apparent.

Mubarak retained his long-serving defense minister, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, and Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit.

State newspapers on Monday published a sternly worded letter from Mubarak to his new prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, ordering him to move swiftly to introduce political, legislative and constitutional reforms and pursue economic policies that will improve people's lives.

Protesters renew chants
But as news of the new government was heard in Tahrir Square, many of the protesters renewed chants of "We want the fall of this regime."

Mostafa el-Naggar, a member of the ElBaradei-backing Association for Change, said he recognized no decision Mubarak took after Jan. 25, the first day of Egyptian protests emboldened by Tunisians' expulsion of their longtime president earlier in the month.

"This is a failed attempt," said el-Naggar of the new government. "He is done with."

Video: Will revolt sweep across the Arab world?

If Egypt's opposition groups are able to truly coalesce, it could sustain and amplify the momentum of the week-old protests.

But unity is far from certain among the array of movements involved in the protests, with sometimes conflicting agendas — including students, online activists, grassroots organizers, old-school opposition politicians and the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, along with everyday citizens drawn by the exhilaration of marching against the government.

It was not clear how much the groups that met Monday represent everyone. The gathering of around 30 representatives, meeting in the Cairo district of Dokki, agreed to work as a united coalition and supported a call for millions of people to turn out for a march Tuesday, said Abu'l-Ela Madi , the spokesman of one of the participating groups, al-Wasat, a moderate breakaway faction from the Muslim Brotherhood.

But they disagreed on other key points. The representatives decided to meet again Tuesday morning at the downtown Cairo headquarters of Wafd, the oldest legal opposition party, to finalize and announce a list of demands. They will also decide whether to make prominent reform advocate Mohamed ElBaradei spokesman for the protesters, Madi said.

Then, he said, they will march to Tahrir Square to demand the ouster of the 82-year-old Mubarak. The coalition also called for a general strike Monday, although much of Cairo remained shut down anyway, with government officers and private businesses closed.

The various protesters are united by little, however, except the demand that Mubarak go. Perhaps the most significant tensions among them is between young secular activists and the Muslim Brotherhood, which wants to form an Islamist state in the Arab world's largest nation. The more secular are deeply suspicious the Brotherhood aims to co-opt what they contend is a spontaneous, popular movement.

Brotherhood role in question
ElBaradei, a pro-democracy advocate and former head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog, invigorated anti-Mubarak feeling with his return to Egypt last year, but the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood remains Egypt's largest opposition movement.

In a nod to the suspicions, Brotherhood figures insist they are not seeking a leadership role.

"We don't want to harm this revolution," Mohamed Mahdi Akef, a former leader of the group.

Still, Brotherhood members appeared to be joining the protest in greater numbers and more openly. During the first few days of protests, the crowd in Tahrir Square was composed of mostly young men in jeans and t-shirts. Today, many of the volunteers handing out food and water to protesters are men in long traditional dress with the trademark Brotherhood appearance — a closely cropped haircut and bushy beards.

Despite the ongoing signs of protest, police and garbage collectors were appearing on the streets of Cairo and subway stations reopened after soldiers and neighborhood watch groups armed with clubs and machetes kept the peace in many districts overnight.

Still some incidents continued. One watch group fended off a band of robbers who tried to break in and steal antiquities from the warehouse of the famed Karnak Temple on the east bank of the Nile in the ancient southern city of Luxor. The locals clashed with the attackers who arrived at the temple carrying guns and knives in two cars around 3 a.m., and seized five of them, handing them over to the military, said neighborhood protection committee member Ezz el-Shafei.

In Cairo, soldiers detained about 50 men trying to break into the Egyptian National Museum in a fresh attempt to loot some of the country's archaeological treasures, the military said.

Qatar-based satellite channel Al-Jazeera said six of its English service journalists were freed Monday after being blocked from leaving their hotels. Their camera equipment was seized during the incident.

On Sunday, Nilesat, the Egyptian satellite transmission company, cut the signal for Al-Jazeera's main channel following complaints from Egyptian authorities that its round-the-clock coverage was slanted toward protesters and could encourage more unrest.

The news channel was told to shut down its operations but it has managed to continue coverage with fixed-position cameras and reports by phone.

    1. Castaway's parents thought they would never see him again

      The father of Pacific castaway Jose Salvador Alvarenga said he was told his long-lost son vanished on a fishing trip but he didn’t have the heart to break the news to his ailing wife.

    2. Scotland legalizes same-sex marriage
    3. Weapons deal strengthened Assad: US intel chief
    4. Outcry over the fate of Sochi's stray dogs
    5. Olympic construction leaves Sochi residents in the cold

Troops in Sinai
Meanwhile, Israeli officials say they have agreed to allow Egypt to move several hundred troops into the Sinai peninsula for the first time since the countries reached peace three decades ago.

Under the 1979 peace treaty, Israel returned the captured Sinai to Egypt. In return, Egypt agreed to leave the area demilitarized.

With street protests threatening the Egyptian regime, the officials say that Israel agreed to allow the Egyptian army to move two battalions, about 800 soldiers, into Sinai. The officials say the troops moved into the Sharm el-Sheikh area on Sinai's southern tip, far from Israel, on Sunday.

The officials spoke Monday on condition of anonymity because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has banned the government from discussing the situation in Egypt.

In another indication of how Egypt's protests were possibly reverberating in capitals around around the world, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton planned to convene an unprecedented mass meeting of U.S. ambassadors, The Associated Press reported.

Video: Crisis in Egypt tests relations with Mubarak

The top envoys from nearly all of America's 260 embassies, consulates and other posts in more than 180 countries will be gathering at the State Department beginning on Monday. Officials say it's the first such global conference, the AP reported.

Reuters, The Associated Press and msnbc.com staff contributed to this report.

Video: Hovering on the brink of a revolution

  1. Closed captioning of: Hovering on the brink of a revolution

    >>> and good evening tonight from cairo in egypt where we found a safe spot to do our broadcast tonight and cobbled together a few ways to get the pictures and sound on the air, though it may be something less than our usual broadcast quality . it's such an important story entering day seven of what may turn out to be a genuine top-to-bottom change, people's revolution, and in the process may rewrite the contemporary history of this region. each day we say it, but it's true. this enters a new stage again tomorrow, and that's because of the promised size of what they're calling the million person march in cairo . we've seen so many television pictures of the main public square there. never quite empty as people flaunt the curfew. a lot of that is going on in the highly populated areas. people are more respectful of the curfew, staying off the roads as you get to the outskirts of town. and then there's the exodus out of here. thousands of people hoping to hop on commercial scheduled or special charter flights. oil companies getting their employees out, various countries, and that includes, of course, hundreds of americans at the airport trying to get out. we have all of it covered. we have the entire region covered. our entire team is here with us. that includes richard engle, who for days has been down in the thick of it in central cairo . he starts off our coverage tonight. richard , good evening.

    >> reporter: good evening, brian . egyptians are bracing for what happens in this country when the sun comes up. the protesters are expected to gather here in cairo 's main square and then march on the presidential palace . egypt is heading for its biggest showdown yet. tens of thousands flooded into tahrir square today, but this was just a prologue. organizers are calling for a million people to go to the square tomorrow to demand that president hosni mubarak step down. this morning in cairo , the army was making preparations. reinforcements were called in to seal off downtown, check i.d. cards and prevent journalists from taking pictures. some soldiers fired warning shots in the air. but demonstrators kept streaming into tahrir , which in arabic means liberation.

    >> even if the army wins, we are not afraid.

    >> reporter: protesters are now gathering here from across egypt . this is becoming the first truly nationwide demonstration. the police also returned to the streets today, but stayed away from the demonstrators. they don't want to repeat what happened last friday. clashes with demonstrators amid clouds of tear gas and, as seen in this new footage from al jazeera , running over demonstrators. today some egyptians jeered and baited policemen, accusing them of supporting a corrupt regime. president mubarak still seems to be looking for a compromise by reshuffling his government. mubarak 's new vice president went on television to say he wants a dialogue with the opposition. but it may be too late.

    >> that's the end. that's the end of the mubarak era.

    >> reporter: the protesters are no longer just young people fed up with mubarak . the muslim brotherhood , a banned islamic group here, is now taking a prominent role. one of its leaders was a main speaker in tahrir today. the muslim brotherhood denounces terrorism, but supports islamic law , is anti-israel and opposes u.s. foreign policy in the middle east . tonight i visited the muslim brotherhood 's main office to interview one of the group's most senior leaders. he just escaped from prison this weekend.

    >> the majority of egyptians are muslims, respecting islam and the minority has its rights. they are citizens. we are calling for a civil state, democratic state , which respects religion, respects all religions and gives all the citizens equal rights .

    >> reporter: he lost his voice because he went from his jail cell straight to cheering in tahrir . he says the brotherhood can work with the u.s. and compromise but offered no specifics.

    >> if the egyptian government falls, isn't the muslim brotherhood just going to take over and isn't that bad for stability in the middle east ?

    >> if they respect democratic principles , they must respect the choice of the people.

    >> reporter: the instability in egypt is terrifying foreign residents. in an apartment debbie alcala from phoenix was packing up today. she's lived in egypt for years but decided to go after she spoke to her son.

    >> it's not the way i thought i would leave. but i hope i'll be back. i have a business here.

    >> reporter: so far the protests have not been anti-american, brian . and in tahrir square now you'll find young and old, religious and secular egyptians , but mostly people working class who are just tired of 30 years of mubarak 's rule. brian .

    >> richard engle in the middle of it all again today and where tomorrow a new stage begins. richard , thanks.

Photos: Farewell Friday

loading photos...
  1. Anti-government protesters celebrate inside Tahrir Square after the announcement of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's resignation in Cairo on Feb. 11. (Dylan Martinez / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Egyptians set off fireworks as they celebrate in Cairo’s Tahrir Square after President Mubarak resigned and handed power to the military. (Khalil Hamra / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. President Barack Obama makes a statement on the resignation of Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak in the Grand Foyer at the White House in Washington D.C. (Carolyn Kaster / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Egyptians celebrate in Tahrir Square after President Hosni Mubarak resigned and handed power to the military on Friday. Egypt exploded with joy, tears, and relief after pro-democracy protesters brought down President Hosni Mubarak with a momentous march on his palaces and state TV. Mubarak, who until the end seemed unable to grasp the depth of resentment over his three decades of authoritarian rule, finally resigned Friday. (Khalil Hamra / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Protesters walk over a barricade after it was taken down to allow free entry to hundreds of thousands of Egyptians in Tahrir Square in Cairo February 11, 2011. A furious wave of protest finally swept Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak from power, sending a warning to autocrats across the Arab world and beyond. (Yannis Behrakis / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. A spokesman for Egypt's higher military council reads a statement titled “Communiqué No. 3” in this video still on Friday. Egypt's higher military council said it would announce measures for a transitional phase after President Hosni Mubarak stepped down. (Reuters Tv / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Egyptian celebrates in Cairo after the announcement of President Mubarak's resignation. (Amr Abdallah Dalsh / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Protesters celebrate inside Tahrir Square after the announcement of Mubarak's resignation in Cairo on Friday. A furious wave of protest finally swept Mubarak from power after 30 years of one-man rule, sparking jubilation in the streets. (Amr Abdallah Dalsh / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. An Egyptian reacts in the street after President Hosni Mubarak resigned and handed power to the military in Cairo, Egypt, on Friday, Feb. 11. (Amr Nabil / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Thousands of Egyptian anti-government protesters celebrate inside Tahrir Square after the announcement of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's resignation on Friday. (Amr Abdallah Dalsh / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Egyptian soldiers celebrate with anti-government protesters in Tahrir Square on Friday. Cairo's streets exploded in joy when Mubarak stepped down after three-decades of autocratic rule and handed power to a junta of senior military commanders. (Marco Longari / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Anti-government protesters celebrate inside Tahrir Square after the announcement of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's resignation in Cairo on Friday. (Dylan Martinez / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Egyptians celebrate the news of Mubarak's resignation in Tahrir Square on Friday. (Tara Todras-whitehill / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. An Egyptian woman cries as she celebrates the news of the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak, who handed control of the country to the military, Friday night, in Tahrir Square, Cairo. (Tara Todras-whitehill / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Egyptian anti-government protesters celebrate minutes after the announcement on television of the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak, in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Friday. Vice President Omar Suleiman announced that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak had resigned. (Khaled Elfiqi / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Opposition protesters celebrate Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak's resignation, in Tahrir Square on Friday. President Mubarak bowed to pressure from the street and resigned, handing power to the army. (Suhaib Salem / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Anti-government protesters celebrate inside Tahrir Square after the announcement of Mubarak's resignation in Cairo on Friday. (Dylan Martinez / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. On Egyptian state television, Al-Masriya, Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman delivers an address announcing that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has stepped down, in Cairo on Friday. (TV via AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  1. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  2. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  3. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  4. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  1. Image: Anti-government protesters celebrate inside Tahrir Square after the announcement of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's resignation in Cairo
    Dylan Martinez / Reuters
    Above: Slideshow (18) Egypt's Mubarak steps down - Farewell Friday
  2. Image: Protester in Tahrir Square
    Emilio Morenatti / AP
    Slideshow (61) Egypt's Mubarak steps down - Week 3
  3. Image: Egyptian anti-Mubarak protesters
    Amr Nabil / AP
    Slideshow (93) Egypt's Mubarak steps down - Week 2
  4. Image: Mohamed ElBaradei
    Khalil Hamra / AP
    Slideshow (83) Egypt's Mubarak steps down - Week 1
  5. Image:
    Mayra Beltran / AP
    Slideshow (17) Egypt's Mubarak steps down - World reacts

Explainer: Key players in Egyptian protests

  • Image: A senior army officer salutes a crowd of cheering protesters at Tahrir square in Cairo
    YANNIS BEHRAKIS  /  Reuters
    A senior army officer salutes a crowd of cheering protesters at Tahrir square in Cairo.

    Protesters stormed Cairo streets in a bid to drive Hosni Mubarak from power, even as the longtime president set the stage for a successor by naming his intelligence chief as his first-ever vice president.

    The following are key players in the unfolding crisis.

    Sources: The Associated Press, Reuters

  • Ex-president

    Image: Mubarak
    Khaled Desouki  /  AFP - Getty Images
    Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak

    Name: Hosni Mubarak

    Age: 82

    Role: Mubarak resigned as president and handed control to the military on Feb. 11, bowing down after a historic 18-day wave of pro-democracy demonstrations by hundreds of thousands. The former air force commander had ruled Egypt for 30 years as leader of the National Democratic Party.

    Background: Mubarak was thrust into office when Islamists gunned down his predecessor Anwar Sadat at a military parade in 1981. He has long promoted peace abroad and on the domestic front he has kept a tight lid on political opposition. He has resisted any significant political change even under pressure from the United States. The U.S. has poured billions of dollars of military and other aid into Egypt since it became the first Arab state to make peace with Israel, signing a treaty in 1979.

    Controversy: Mubarak won the first multicandidate presidential election in 2005 although the outcome was never in doubt and his main rival came in a distant second. Rights groups and observers said the election was marred by irregularities.

    Personal note: There have been questions about his health after surgery in Germany last March.

  • New VP

    Arno Burgi  /  EPA
    Omar Suleiman

    Name: Omar Suleiman
    Age: 74
    Role: The intelligence chief and Mubarak confidant became Egypt's first vice president in three decades on Jan. 29. The move clearly set up a succession that would hand power to Suleiman and keep control of Egypt in the hands of military men.
    Military man: He has been the director of the Egyptian General Intelligence Services since 1993, a part in which he has played a prominent public role in diplomacy, including in Egypt's relations with Israel and the United States. In 1992 he headed the General Operations Authority in the Armed Forces and then became the director of the military intelligence unit before taking over EGIS. Suleiman took part in the war in Yemen in 1962 and the 1967 and 1973 wars against Israel.
    Intel chief: Suleiman was in charge of the country's most important political security files, and was the mastermind behind the fragmentation of Islamist groups who led the uprising against the state in the 1990s.

  • New PM

    Image: Ahmed Shafiq
    Mohamed Abd El Ghany  /  Reuters
    Egypt's Civil Aviation Minister Ahmed Shafiq.

    Name: Ahmed Shafiq
    Age: 69
    Role: President Mubarak appointed Shafiq as prime minister on Jan. 29.
    Background: A close associate of Mubarak, Shafiq has been minister of civil aviation since 2002. As minister of civil aviation, Shafiq has won a reputation for efficiency and administrative competence. He has supervised a successful modernization program at the state airline, EgyptAir, and improvements to the country's airports.
    Former fighter pilot: Shafiq served as commander of the Egyptian air force between 1996 and 2002, a post Mubarak held before he became vice president of Egypt under former President Anwar Sadat.

  • Rival

    Mohamed ElBaradei
    John Macdougall  /  AFP - Getty Images
    Mohamed ElBaradei

    Name: Mohamed ElBaradei
    Age: 68
    Role: The Nobel Peace Prize winner joined demonstrators trying to oust Mubarak. ElBaradei has suggested he might run for president if democratic and constitutional change were implemented.
    Atomic watchdog: ElBaradei joined the International Atomic Energy Agency in 1984 and served as its director-general in 1997. He transformed the IAEA into a body bold enough to take a stand on political issues relating to peace and proliferation, despite critics' belief that it was not its place. In 2005, ElBaradei and the IAEA were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He retired in 2009.
    Law and diplomacy: He studied law, graduating from the University of Cairo and the New York University School of Law. He began his career in the Egyptian diplomatic service in 1964, working twice in the permanent missions of Egypt to the United Nations in New York and Geneva. He was in charge of political, legal and arms control issues. He was a special assistant to the Egyptian foreign minister and was a member of the team that negotiated the peace settlement with Israel at Camp David in 1978. He joined the United Nations two years later.
    On Iraq: ElBaradei was outspoken on the lack of evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq before the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, which angered the Bush administration.

  • On guard

    Image:
    Lefteris Pitarakis  /  AP
    Egyptian army soldiers in Tahrir square in Cairo.

    Name: Egyptian Armed Forces
    Role: The army remains the most powerful institution in the nation, and whatever it does next will determine the future of the Arab world's most populous country. The military appeared to be going to great lengths to calm the country without appearing opposed to  demonstrations. 
    Background: Egypt's 500,000-man army has long enjoyed the respect of citizens who perceive it as the country's least corrupt and most efficient public institution, particularly compared to a police force notorious for heavy handedness and corruption. It is touted as having defeated Israel in the 1973 Mideast War, and revered for that role.
    Stabilizer: The military, for its part, sees itself as the guarantor of national stability and above the political fray, loyal to both the government and what it sees as the interests of the general population. The military has given Egypt all of its four presidents since the monarchy was toppled in 1952.
    Provider:  Although it has almost completely withdrawn from politics since 1952, the army has added to its strength by venturing into economic activity, playing a growing role in such key service industries as food production and construction. It stepped in in 2008 during an acute shortage of bread, Egypt's main stable, which it provided from its own bakeries. It has since opened outlets for basic food items sold as vastly discounted prices.

  • The Brotherhood

    Image: Mohamed Badie
    Asmaa Waguih  /  Reuters
    Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie

    Name: Muslim Brotherhood
    Role: The brotherhood is Egypt's largest and most organized political opposition movement. Banned in 1954 on charges of using violence, members returned to Egypt to show support in protests.
    Background: The group said it has since denounced violence and expanded its international presence. It has participated in Egyptian elections as independents despite frequent crackdowns. It surprisingly won about 20 percent of the 454 seats in 2005 parliamentary elections and since then, authorities have jailed around 5,000 of its members. The group believes in Islamic rule.
    New audience: The Muslim Brotherhood is the focus of a TV series, "Al-Gamaa," or "The Group," which centers on a 2009 court case in which members were accused of setting up a student militia.

  • Mubarak's son

    Image: Gamal Mubarak
    Khaled El Fiqi  /  EPA
    Gamal Mubarak

    Name: Gamal Mubarak
    Age: 47
    Role: Served as secretary general of his father's National Democratic Party.
    Background: The younger Mubarak spent 11 years working at Bank of America in Cairo and London, had gained considerable influence in government after his father appointed him head of the ruling National Democratic Party's (NDP) policy committee in 2002. Many Egyptians felt Mubarak was grooming Gamal as his successor. Before Gamal rose to prominence, speculation was rife in the 1990s that Mubarak wanted Alaa, Gamal's younger brother, to succeed him.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments