By David D. Kirkpatrick, Anthony Shadid, and Alan Cowell

The Egyptian military appeared to assert its leadership Friday amid growing indications that President Hosni Mubarak was yielding all power. A Western official said that Mr. Mubarak had left the capital, though that could not be independently confirmed.

The Associated Press, citing a local official, said that Mr. Mubarak had flown to the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheik, about 250 miles from Cairo, where he maintains a residence.

Angry protesters, who had swarmed by the thousands into the streets here Friday morning, were hardly mollified by the news of Mr. Mubarak’s exit and an accompanying statement by the Supreme Council of the Egyptian Armed Forces over state television and radio indicating that the military, not Mr. Mubarak, was in effective control of the country. They said they would not believe he was gone until he had formally relinquished his title as president, and until his handpicked successor, Vice President Omar Suleiman, had been ousted as well.

It was unclear whether the military would take meaningful steps toward democracy or embark on a new military dictatorship.

Although Mr. Mubarak said in his speech Thursday 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, and ina patronizing tone that further enraged protesters.

Western diplomats said that officials of the Egyptian government were scrambling to assure the public that Mr. Mubarak had flubbed his lines, and that his muddled speech had in fact signaled his irrevocable hand over of presidential authority. Read more…

As published in www.nytimes.com on February 11, 2011


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