Behind the scenes: How Hosni Mubarak really resigned
Mr. Mubarak kept procrastinating to ensure the safe passage of his sons
Since he announced his resignation as Egypt’s president on February 11, speculation has been rife over how Hosni Mubarak spent his last hours as president of Egypt. It was only when the semi-official daily al-Akhbar published leaks from unnamed sources that Egyptians were offered a glimpse of what the situation was like for the president right before his three-decade rule ended ignominiously.
According to the leaks, three top Egyptian officials played a major role in forcing Mr. Mubarak to step down immediately despite his request that this decision be postponed till he made sure his two sons, Alaa and Gamal, had arrived safely in the Red Sea resort of Sharm al-Sheikh, where he and his wife were staying.
The three officials were Hussein Tantawi, then minister of defense and now head of the Higher Council of Armed Forces; former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik; and former Vice President Omar Suleiman. After the unrest that swept Egypt in the wake of the January 25 protests that called for the ouster of the regime, Mr. Mubarak flew to Sharm al-Sheikh with his wife Susan Thabet, known as Susan Mubarak. The leaks have it that Mrs. Mubarak fainted at the airport and the flight was delayed until she regained consciousness.
After arriving in Sharm al-Sheikh, Brigadier General Tantawi, Lieutenant General Shakik, and Mr. Suleiman kept putting pressure on Mr. Mubarak to give in to the demands of millions of Egyptians who had been protesting for 18 days to end his 30-year rule.
Mr. Mubarak kept procrastinating on the grounds that his sons were still in Cairo and that their lives might be endangered if they stayed after he quit power. At the time, both Alaa and Gamal were getting ready to join their father and were expected to arrive in Sharm al-Sheikh shortly.
However, the three officials insisted that time was running out and that the president should announce his resignation immediately.
Mr. Suleiman from Cairo recorded the resignation announcement on February 11 at noon because there wasn’t enough time to send a radio technical team to Sharm al-Sheikh to record the president’s voice.
General Ismail Etman, director of the Armed Forces Department of Morale, took the tape, delivered it to the Radio and Television building in Cairo, and waited for instructions to air it.
Mr. Mubarak postponed the broadcasting of the announcement for a few hours until Brigadier General Tantawi, Lieutenant General Shafik, and Mr. Suleiman insisted it couldn’t be delayed anymore.
Failing to dissuade them, Mr. Mubarak agreed to their request and the resignation announcement was on TV one hour earlier than the time he wanted. The announcement was eventually broadcast at 6:00 p.m. on February 11.
According to the leaks, Mr. Mubarak did not object to anything in the resignation speech.
It took Mr. Suleiman 50 seconds to announce that Mr. Mubarak was no longer president of Egypt and that the Higher Council of Armed Forces was to take over.
A new era in Egypt had begun.
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