afrol News, 1 February - As everybody understands that President Hosni Mubarak has into the popular revolution, speculations into his whereabouts are mounting. Is he at home, in the presidential palace, in his Sharm-el-Sheikh villa, or already abroad?
President Mubarak has only directed himself to the Egyptian people once since the popular uprising started, then announcing reforms and a new government. Later, state TV has shown pictures of him decorating the new Vice-President and planning together with military chiefs.
At the latest yesterday, it became clear the Egyptian leader could not maintain his grip on power after a military spokesman announced the army would not use violence against the protesters.
Since that, President Mubarak has not been seen in public.
The lack of public appearances is astonishing Egyptians. Many hope it means the 83-year-old now is preparing his final appearance on Egyptian state television, to announce his retirement.
Many rumours however circulate in Cairo and the rest of the country. Several Cairo residents claim to have spoken to members of Mr Mubarak's private staff, saying the elder leader never even left his private mansion today, indicating he is isolated at home. These are, however, unconfirmed hearsay rumours not taken seriously by analysts.
Most assume Mr Mubarak is at the Heliopolis presidential palace, some kilometres outside central Cairo. Army reinforcements around Heliopolis, including the construction of barricades, indicate the President's security is taken care off by army units guarding his office in the belief he is there.
Protesters, originally considering a march to Heliopolis today, have given Mr Mubarak until Friday before they storm the presidential palace. The majority of protesters at central Cairo's Tahrir Square believe the President is hiding out in Heliopolis.
For days, rumours from throughout the country speak of encounters with Mr Mubarak. The most referred rumour comes from several workers in the Red Sea holiday resort Sharm-el-Sheikh - where the President has his holiday chalet - claiming to have seen Mr Mubarak in the city.
The Egyptian President however has made public appearances on state TV since his alleged hideout-seeking in Sharm-el-Sheikh. The rumour nevertheless still circulates.
Regularly, there are also rumours that Mr Mubarak already has left the country - leaning on to the confirmed reports that family members already have been jetted to London. afrol News on Friday reported on the first rumours about Mr Mubarak having "left Egypt on a private jet headed for London," quoting the Arabic-language media 'Akhbar Al Arab'.
Today, 'Al Jazeera' spoke about similar rumours circulating in the environs of Cairo Airport. But also today's rumours of Mr Mubarak's flight seem precipitated. Several central sources vehemently later denied the President had left the country.
Meanwhile, as millions of protesters today defied the curfew in Egypt, the aging President becomes more and more impotent in the eyes of Egyptians. Most by now only expect a final message of his retirement or flight, rather sooner than later.
Update: Egyptian authorities have announced that President Mubarak will make a speech on state television later this evening.
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