Mubarak heading for the exit?

CNN reports:

Embattled President Hosni Mubarak’s three-decade authoritarian rule in Egypt could possibly come to an end Thursday night, CIA Director Leon Panetta told the U.S. Congress.

“As you can see I got the same information you did which is there is a strong likelihood that Mubarak may step down this evening, which would be significant in terms of where the hopefully orderly transition in Egypt takes place,” Panetta said.

Mubarak has agreed to yield power to his vice president, a senior U.S. official told CNN, citing contacts within the Egyptian government.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information, tempered his remarks by saying: “We need to see it happen.”

But the official said the information came from reliable and ranking officials in the Mubarak regime. Asked when the transfer of power might take place, the official said: “We are told soon is the plan.”
Hossam Badrawi, a prominent doctor who was appointed to the ruling party’s post last Saturday, told CNN he believed Mubarak’s words would “accommodate the protesters.”

Badrawi indicated that the transition process had been accelerated but he was unclear exactly when Mubarak might step down. He said certain constitutional reforms have to be implemented before the president can relinquish power.

“They won,” said Badrawi, referring to the protesters.

Commenter Abu Faris in Cairo writes:

Army Supreme Council meets without Mubarak present.

Army SC refuses to allow Mubarak to make and broadcast a speech to hand over power to the hated Military Intelligence chief and V.P. Sulayman.

Some fairly strong rumours that elements of the military attempted (or at least plotted) to assassinate Sulayman earlier today.

Army High Command states to protesters that all their demands will be met.

Cabinet officials announce that decision on Mubarak’s future will be decided later tonight.

Army indicate that they want a provisional caretaker government to take over after this evening.

Mubarak probably in Sharm el-Shaykh with Chief of Staff.

Presidential Guard at Presidential Palace reduced to skeleton staff, indicating that Mubarak not resident.

Army indicates that it is not planning a coup. Protesters indicate that they will not tolerate the same.

“The Army and the People, hand in hand!”

Obviously developments are moving at a rapid pace, and nothing is certain until it happens.

Update: Despite the expectations, Mubarak still refuses to quit. For all the talk of “stability” and preventing chaos, Mubarak, by clinging to office, has now become the main threat to a reasonably peaceful transition in Egypt.

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