By Erik Frenkil
Since the beginning of the Egyptian revolution several weeks ago, the country hasn’t been following the Gregorian calendar or the Islamic one. Instead, today is Day 18 of the revolution.
That could come to a head tonight. Rumors are circulating that President Hosni Mubarak is going to hand over power to his vice president, Omar Suleiman. If this happens, the constitution calls for a new election within sixty days.
Meanwhile, Mubarak’s son resigned from the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) along with other top leaders. Reformist Hossam Badrawy is the NDP’s new Secretary General. The NDP controls 81% of the People’s Assembly.
Protesters have made Liberation Square into a standing encampment, complete with makeshift barricades, clinics, prisons, clean streets, recycling bins, and posters commemorating those killed. There was even a wedding last Sunday.
On Tuesday, workers went on strike in Suez, Mahalla, Quesna, Port Said, Ismailia, and Aswan. They are calling for better wages, healthcare, and working conditions. Cairo’s public transportation workers joined the following day, effectively shutting down all public buses.
Google executive and blogger Wael Ghonim was released after ten days of detention, emerging as a hero amongst the crowds. He later admitted to creating the Facebook group that helped spark what he calls “Revolution 2.0.” Ghonim appears to be replacing Mohamed ElBaradei in the press as the leader figure, although he has no apparent political ambitions.
Three opposition leaders appear poised for a presidential run: Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei, Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa, and El-Ghad Party Chairman Ayman Nour (imprisoned for political reasons before he could run in 2005.)
The United States continues to call for Mubarak to step down, and for the end of his emergency law. Frank Wisner, the diplomat sent by Obama to Egypt, stated publicly that Mubarak should remain in power until the September elections. It is now clear that he was not speaking on behalf of the administration. Wisner has lobbying ties to the regime.
Guest writer Eric Frenkil ’11 took a semester off in Fall 2009 to work for an Egyptian NGO. He will return to Cairo this October after the September elections.