Western diplomats said that officials of the Egyptian government were scrambling to assure that a muddled speech Mr. Mubarak made on Thursday night that enraged protesters had in fact signaled his irrevocable hand over of presidential authority.
“The government of Egypt says absolutely, it is done, it is over,” a Western diplomat said, suggesting that the Egyptian military and government officials had expected Mr. Mubarak to make his exit clear last night, but that the president failed to deliver those lines. “That is not what anybody heard.”
The Army announcement and diplomatic scrambling appeared intended to forestall the potential for violent confrontations as hundreds of thousands of protesters, angered by Mr. Mubarak’s refusal to step down on Thursday, flooded the streets demanding his full resignation — if not also his public trial for violence against them.
By about 1 p.m., state television was reporting that thousands had gathered around the state television building and were threatening violence against employees who entered. Their rage had been stoked when, after a day of mounting official signals that he was about to make an exit, the president failed to convey any such conclusion in either its tone or literal meaning.
Although he said that he was “delegating” his powers to his vice president, he did it in an aside that was easy to miss. He apparently referred to a provision of the Constitution that would have allowed him to reclaim those powers. And the rest of his speech sounded very much like he was an active president with no intention of resigning.
This is interesting. It did seem, earlier in the speech, like he was stepping down… And then… I guess someone should fire the speech writer?