By Luis Ramirez
Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak appears to have taken one more step toward relinquishing power, with Egyptian state television reporting the top leadership of his National Democratic party has resigned.
Meanwhile, thousands of demonstrators gathered again on Saturday at Cairo’s Tahrir Square in their bid to push him to leave the presidency, and the country, immediately.
It was day 12 of the massive protests, and the 82-year-old leader is showing no outward signs of stepping down as president for now.
State television on Saturday announced a shakeup in the leadership of Mr. Mubarak’s party, but not his departure as head of the party or the country presidency as opposition demonstrators have been demanding.
Anti-Mubarak demonstrators gathered at Tahrir Square as they have for days, reminding Mr. Mubarak they are not going away.
Their chants were the same: Mr. Mubarak must go and he must go now.
The announcement of the shakeup in his party leadership is the latest in a series of steps taken in hopes of quelling the protests. Since the demonstrations began, Mr. Mubarak appointed a vice president and then said he will not seek reelection this year.
State television reported those resigning from the party leadership include Mr. Mubarak’s son, Gamal Mubarak who had been seen until recently as the heir-apparent to the presidency.
Some protesters at Tahrir Square late Saturday cheered the announcement, but the demonstration continued.
After 12 days of crippling and bloody protests that have left the capital scarred, killed tourism, and brought business to a halt, Egyptians are showing signs of fatigue.
Not far from the square, at an exclusive club, a group of businessmen chat. On their faces are looks of worry. With banks and the stock exchange closed since the troubles began, their offices have been paralyzed for days.
Businessman Mohamed Omran says he is wondering how much longer the unrest will last, and he is wondering about the future. “It has done a lot of damage to our economy. It has done damage to our balance of trade with the outside world. It has done damage to the money cycle, the business cycle. It’s damaging,” he said.
One businessman who did not wish to be named said he supports the demonstrators but is also worried about what will happen if the crisis is prolonged. He said his staff has not been able to report to work since the demonstrations began due to the curfew. With financial institutions paralyzed, he fears unrest might spread.
“Those demonstrations started at the end of the month. A lot of people did not receive their salaries. We’re afraid that those demonstrations if they might continue, and this country would stay paralyzed and not operable, that this will result that people will start to hunger and then we’re going to have another problem,” he said.
The government says banks will reopen on Sunday, but the resumption of trade on the stock exchange will be delayed.
Even as more demonstrators poured in to occupy Tahrir Square, there were signs of normalcy returning to the Egyptian capital Saturday. Officials announced the curfew was being shortened, allowing people to be on the streets from seven in the morning to seven in the evening.
Mr. Mubarak on Saturday convened his new cabinet and economic team to talk about how the crisis is affecting the economy.
The Egyptian leader’s strategies on resolving the crisis do not, for the time being, include yielding to the protesters’ demands that he step down now.