Egypt’s Mubarak ready to quit?


– BREAKING STORY –

CAIRO: Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq told Britain's BBC that President Hosni Mubarak may step down and the situation in the country will be clarified soon, the British broadcaster said on Thursday.

Egypt's military announced it was taking measures to preserve the nation and aspirations of the people after a meeting of the Higher Army Council.

The statement, from an army spokesman on state television came as pressure mounted on Mubarak, 82, to end his 30-year rule. The president has been buffeted by widespread protests against poverty, repression and corruption in the most populous Arab nation.

The meeting of the Higher Army Council was headed by the defense minister and Mubarak was not present, according to television footage.

Pro-democracy protesters consolidated a new encampment around Cairo's parliament building and the main focus of the opposition, Tahrir, or Liberation, Square remained crowded.

Organisers were promising another major push on the streets on Friday when protesters said they plan to move on to the state radio and television building in "The Day of Martyrs" dedicated to the dead which the United Nations says could number 300.

Washington has pressured Mubarak to speed up the pace of reform but has stopped short of demanding the resignation of the president of Egypt which has a peace treaty with Israel and an army which receives about $1.3 billion in U.S. aid a year.

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device via Vodafone-Celcom Mobile.

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