afrol News, 2 February - The Egyptian army today ordered the people to stop the protests and "return to normal life". At the sane time, the regime mobilises thousands of armed pro-Mubarak protesters. But large masses again stream to Tahrir Square.
Amidst fears of the army changing side to support the Mubarak regime and threats from agents provocateurs from the regime, anti-government protesters again flock to central Cairo, Alexandria and Suez. There are no signs the people of Egypt will be intimidated.
There are concerns that the regime may prepare for a bloodbath today by paying for armed pro-Mubarak demonstrators. Feared clashes between the two camps - as seen in central Alexandria this night - may then be the awaited pretext for army leaders to give the order to strike against the anti-government protesters.
The army leadership, facing the reality that army privates in the streets were fraternising with the protesters - had earlier declared its sympathy with the "legitimate demands" of the protesters. After President Hosni Mubarak's speech this night, saying he will not stand for re-election in September, the situation suddenly changed.
While protesters were enraged by Mr Mubarak's announcement he would stay in power until September, pro-Mubarak protesters "accidentally" and suddenly turned up in greater numbers and closed in on the anti-government protesters. Unlike the anti-government protesters, many of the pro-Mubarak agents had firearms. In Alexandria, they managed to provoke clashes, forcing the army to go in-between.
New reports from Egypt strongly indicate that the pro-Mubarak groups are paid by the regime and organised by agents. A few of them have already fraternised with the anti-government protesters, telling them they were paid E£ 400 (US$ 70, around a normal month's salary) to participate. They said the regime was trying to recruit massive numbers through bribes.
Today, army spokesman Ismail Etman on state television said it was now time for the anti-government protesters to go home. The protesters' message had been thoroughly received, he emphasised, and there was
no need to repeat it. People should rather help restore normality in the country, not pushing it into further crisis.
It was made clear that the demands of the protesters were heard and action to meet them was taken. President Mubarak had accepted to quit. Curfew was loosened, now only starting at 5 PM. Freedom of expression was restored. Even the internet and mobile networks were back on - although reports from Egypt confirm further limitations in the access to social media Facebook and Twitter.
At the same time, the numbers of pro-Mubarak protesters in the streets has swollen. There are reports of up to 4,000 of them in central Cairo alone. These protesters - seen by most as paid government agents - are largely outnumbered by the anti-government protesters, but seem better organised, more willing to use violence and of course get all the attention on Egyptian state broadcasters.
It looks like the regime has a plan of striking back. Provoking clashes could be the pretext for a violent army intervention against the mass protests. There are fears of a bloodbath.
But anti-government protesters at Tahrir Square in Cairo say they have no fear. If there will be violence, it will be at the responsibility of the regime, several protesters held.
Indeed, most anti-government protesters would not get intimidated by these new tactics. People are again streaming into central Cairo, Alexandria and Suez. Few believe army privates would follow army officers' orders to shoot at the crowds.
Yesterday, millions were protesting against the Mubarak regime. So far, there are no signs that the protests will be smaller today. People seem more defiant than ever. But while there will be massive protests today, the protesters are still focus on Friday, after the prayers, as the "farewell day" for the regime. Then, they will march towards the presidential palace.
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