Labour | Politics
Friday is D-day for Mubarak regime
The two televised speeches by President Hosni Mubarak and Vice-President Omar Suleiman on Thursday evening took the Egyptian protesters from grand expectations to anger and to rage. Spontaneous marches went from central Cairo's protest camp at Tahrir Square to the nearby building of state TV, to "include it in the liberated zone."
Indeed, with trade unions joining the mass protests on Wednesday, a new dynamic was sparked in the Egyptian revolution, forcing President Mubarak to make his Thursday speech. Strikes were starting to paralyse the rest of Egypt's functional economic sectors, spreading to key industries and to cities and towns all over the country, including locations that had not experienced earlier protests.
The speech by President Mubarak, and the later call by Vice-President Suleiman for workers to go back to work, had the opposite function. The message on state TV, even showing the masses protesting at Tahrir Square for the first time, rather infuriated Egyptians, motivating further groups to join the strikes and protests.
Key sectors are targeted for Friday. There are more and more calls for workers at the Suez Canal administration to join the strike, which would put massive pressure on government as key revenues would stop reaching state coffers and international trade would be struck hardly.
Masses are expected to become massive all over Egypt during Friday, as the grip of fear is finally being removed also in smaller cities and towns. But especially in Cairo, the Friday march is expected to again break records. On Thursday, an estimated 3
While the protests so far have been peaceful - on part of the protesters - in Cairo and Alexandria, the Thursday answer by President Mubarak - seen as an unacceptable show of arrogance - has brought the crowds somewhat out of control. Last Friday, the masses finally decided not to march towards the presidential palace in Heliopolis, not to provoke more losses of lives.
This Friday, protesters know they will have to show off a greater demonstration of power - more than "only" the numbers of protesters. Discussions on Tahrir Square are ongoing regarding what would be the best solution. Among those staying the night at Tahrir - more than ever this night - the overwhelming majority is calling for a storm of the presidential palace.
While it is not sure that the great masses turning out in Cairo streets on Friday will join the march against the Heliopolis palace - located 15 kilometres from Tahrir - large groups of protesters will head towards Heliopolis or any other headquarter of government power in Cairo.
The large question is how the army - or even worse, the presidential guard - will react to the protesters challenging the regime's headquarters. The regular army, most expect, will not shoot at protesters. But the presidential guard ... that question remains open.
By staff writers
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