Too little, too late, or a very cunning move from a wily politician? As Hosni Mubarak delivered his address to the nation, it did represent defeat; he said he would not stand again, and that he would not put his son Gamal forward. He remained defiant; ‘I am proud of the years I have served my country,’ he said. ‘History will judge us.’ The big question is: will it be enough? I’m not sure. I don’t think it should be enough – 8 months is a long time to plot and maneuver; the NDP is the only party with a proper party machine. It would not be out of the realms of possibility that Mubarak could engineer some kind of result that might not leave him in power, but gives him some role behind the scenes.
It’s a tough call for the demonstrators, who are increasingly feeling the strain of being under seige. It’s not just the state security system which has gone awol (of their own volition or under orders? Probably the latter); all other functions of state and commerce have ground to a halt. The government runs most bread production (it was part of the old social contract – feed the people and they won’t complain), and the bread is running dangerously short. Trucks aren’t making deliveries. Phone credit is almost impossible to get. Bank machines have no money. People might be ready to go back home and to work, to get their lives back to normal – with the promise of better things to come.
I don’t think that the formal opposition will accept this compromise, particularly not the Muslim Brotherhood who are the most likely to be excluded from any future elections (if Mubarak doesn’t find a way to do that, the USA will). But will the people continue their defiance? We’ll find out tomorrow.
VERDICT: Mubarak goes 4th