‘THIS IS our revolution, Mubarak is a tyrant, not a president any more!’ said angry Egyptians demonstrating in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Tuesday.
The chanting and whistles from Tahrir Square could be heard more than a mile away.
On Tuesday night, Egyptian President Husni Mubarak emerged to make a statement on television, saying that he would only stand down at elections in September.
But the demonstrators, who remained in the square overnight, angrily rejected Mubarak’s ‘offer’ and said he must go now.
Mubarak spoke after former American Democratic Party presidential candidate John Kerry – chair of the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee – intervened, saying that the 82-year-old Mubarak should ‘step aside gracefully’.
‘The most important step that he can take is to address his nation and declare that neither he nor the son he has been positioning as his successor will run in the presidential election this year,’ Kerry said.
‘Egyptians have moved beyond his regime, and the best way to avoid unrest turning into upheaval is for President Mubarak to take himself and his family out of the equation.’
Later, after Mubarak had spoken, US President Barack Obama said ‘An orderly transition . . . must begin now.’
The United States despatched Frank Wisner to Cairo, a veteran diplomat and former ambassador to Egypt.
At the same time, the United States and other governments were evacuating their officials and other citizens from Egypt.
The Egyptian army delivered a decisive blow against Mubarak when it refused to use force and said it would respect the ‘legitimate rights of the people’ after the calls for a million-strong march in Cairo on Tuesday.
A lot more than a million responded to the call, with hundreds of thousands marching in Alexandria.
There were more massive demonstrations in other towns and cities as the main streets were flooded with people, vowing not to leave until Mubarak was toppled from power.
At the same time workers launched an indefinite general strike.
‘Go Mubarak, Go!’, ‘Leave! Leave! Leave!’ shouted the crowds that included people of all ages, men, women and children.
They were demanding Mubarak leave Egypt and by the end of the day, whilst behind the scenes US diplomats were talking feverishly with figures inside Mubarak’s regime.
Demonstrations were being staged in Port Said, Suez, Menya, Mansoura, Damnhour, Arish, Tanta, El-Mahalla el-Kubra and in Sinai, where 250,000 turned out.
Egypt reclaimed the Sinai Peninsula in 1973 after Israel invaded its territory in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
Anwar Sadat signed a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel in 1979.
Mubarak came to power in 1981, after Sadat’s assassination, and has remained in power for 30 years, backed by the US administration, while Egyptians have suffered increasing unemployment, poverty and hunger.
Tuesday’s demonstrations marked a week since the beginning of the insurrection in Egypt, which followed the uprising of the masses in Tunisia.
They were the biggest street demonstrations so far and the crowds were not willing to leave the streets while Mubarak remained in office.
The crowds in Tahrir Square and other places involved ordinary people of all backgrounds, religious and not religious, especially young people, who have been at the forefront of the revolution.
There were effigies of Mubarak and a coffin symbolising the funeral of his regime.
‘Go to hell, Mubarak, leave Egypt, just leave us alone!’ demonstrators cried.
‘We’re tired of Mubarak, we hate Mubarak. People are dying! They kill our kids, they kill our boys!’
There were demands for a ‘free election’ and for ‘the youth’ to shape the country’s destiny.
All were opposed to Western attempts to interfere.
Young demonstrators said they were not prepared to live any longer under the only president they had known all their lives and that they would create the future themselves.
The masses were determined and confident that they would force Mubarak out.
The numbers of anti-government demonstrators has grown by the day and now a general strike is developing.
Between 150-300 people are estimated to have died in the clashes that erupted last week.
The army’s statement that it would not use force against the masses buoyed the demonstrators.
‘To the great people of Egypt, your armed forces, acknowledging the legitimate rights of the people – they have not and will not use force against the Egyptian people,’ said an army statement.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said it was ready to ‘help’ Egypt define ‘the kind of economic policy that could be put in place’.
The furious youth and workers of Egypt are demanding bread, jobs and homes and will resist any IMF intervention into their affairs.
Meanwhile, the revolution in Egypt and Tunisia is inspiring workers all over the world.
The National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union of South Africa (NEHAWU) has issued a statement expressing full support for the Egyptian Revolution.
NEHAWU offered its ‘solidarity and support to the working class of Egypt who are engaged in epic and intense mass protests in order to overthrow the Western-backed dictatorship of Husni Mubarak.’
NEHAWU continued: ‘We also congratulate the heroic people of Tunisia who toppled the kleptocratic regime of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali that has looted the country for the last 24 years.
‘It is our belief that where anarchy is law revolution is in order.
‘This is an opportunity for the oppressed people of the world to learn lessons from these two countries and we encourage all world citizens to support this fight for the people of Egypt to decide democratically and freely the system of government and the leadership they want.
‘NEHAWU calls on all its members and South Africans to join the solidarity march this coming Friday 4th February at 2.30pm outside the Egyptian Embassy in Pretoria.
‘South Africans have been beneficiaries of international solidarity against the evil apartheid regime and we owe it to all the oppressed people of the world to be at the forefront of the struggles against tyranny and injustice.
‘We live in an unjust world that is deeply anti-democratic and reactionary and the consequences of this are paid for again and again by the working class.
‘We still witness the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan by foreign troops, Palestinian territories by Israel and the occupation of Western Sahara by Morocco.
‘Progressive forces need to unite and work together to fight these battles because our power lies in our unity.
‘There has been an increase of retrogressive incidents like racism, xenophobia, neo-fascist practices as well as an intensification of attacks against economic migrants in Europe.
‘The people of Tunisia have shown us that people who struggle and work together will eventually succeed and all progressive forces at the trade union, social and political level have a duty to tell the working class the truth and open new paths.
‘The oppressed people of Swaziland and anywhere in the world are reliant on planned struggles and durable solidarity against their oppressors in order to solve their current problems and we need not let them down.
‘NEHAWU also calls on the Tunisians and Egyptians to ensure that they not only kick out dictators but they introduce a social system that does not encourage the exploitation of one person by another.
‘The opponents of the working class are not invincible!
‘Invincible are the people who know how to fight for their rights.
‘Issued by NEHAWU Secretariat Office.’
NEHAWU was founded in 1987 and is affiliated to COSATU – the Congress of South African Trade Unions – which is the biggest union federation in South Africa with 1.9 million members.