Egypt unrest: Day 17 as it happened

  • Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak announces he will hold on to power until September, refusing to bow to protesters' demands that he step down.
  • Protesters have reacted angrily and with surprise - earlier comments from army and government officials had hinted that Mr Mubarak was about to resign.
  • Analysts are predicting bigger, more angry demonstrations will follow.
  • Earlier, the army had announced its higher council will "remain in continuous session" without President Mubarak to "discuss what measures and arrangements could be taken to safeguard the homeland".
  • Live page reporters: Joe Boyle, Anna Jones and Daniel Nasaw.
  • All times in GMT.

0135 That draws to a close today's live coverage of events in Egypt, where thousands of protesters continue to throng Tahrir Square. You can continue to follow events with regular updates on the BBC news website throughout the night. Thank you for following developments on the BBC.

0128 Chris Hayes, the Washington editor of the Nation magazine, tweets: "Statement out from WH certainly the strongest they've issued. Pretty much everything short of: 'get out'"

0126 Larry Korb of the liberal Center for American Progress think tank in Washington tells the BBC the transition has begun: "Whether it's going to be smooth or not I think is the key issue. The [Obama] administration has finally decided Mubarak's got to go, we need a Democratic Egypt, and we're willing to face the consequences."

0122 Lily Khalil in Cairo tweets: "The fact that people are following me (us) from all over the world means that the world is interested in #Egypt and cheering on for a new day.'"

0118Dr Said Shehata tells the BBC that Mr Mubarak's transfer of power is limited by the Egyptian constitution. Vice-President Omar Suleiman, whom the Egyptian ambassador in Washington described as the current "de facto" president, cannot amend the constitution, dismiss the government, or dissolve the parliament, he says.

0109The BBC's Andrew North in Washington says the US president's statement is a sign the White House was not satisfied by Mr Mubarak's announcement. Our correspondent says Mr Obama had seemed earlier in the day to be preparing for Mr Mubarak to step down and seemed euphoric. He calls it the strongest statement yet from the White House on the Egypt protests.

0106 Sarah Rihal in Cairo writes: "Stubborn, one man is killing a country... but our will to see change is greater."
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0105Mr Obama says: "There must be restraint by all parties. Violence must be forsaken. It is imperative that the government not respond to the aspirations of their people with repression or brutality. The voices of the Egyptian people must be heard."

0104Mr Obama calls on the Egyptian government to lift the emergency law, to begin "meaningful negotiations with the broad opposition and Egyptian civil society", which should protect the fundamental rights of all citizens, revise the constitution, and develop a "clear roadmap" to free and fair elections.

0100In what has been an eagerly anticipated statement, Mr Obama says: "The future of Egypt will be determined by the Egyptian people. But the US has also been clear that we stand for a set of core principles. We believe that the universal rights of the Egyptian people must be respected, and their aspirations must be met. We believe that this transition must immediately demonstrate irreversible political change, and a negotiated path to democracy."

0059Mr Obama says the US urges "the Egyptian government to move swiftly to explain the changes that have been made, and to spell out in clear and unambiguous language the step by step process that will lead to democracy and the representative government that the Egyptian people seek".

0058US President Barack Obama says: "The Egyptian people have been told that there was a transition of authority, but it is not yet clear that this transition is immediate, meaningful or sufficient. Too many Egyptians remain unconvinced that the government is serious about a genuine transition to democracy, and it is the responsibility of the government to speak clearly to the Egyptian people and the world. The Egyptian government must put forward a credible, concrete and unequivocal path toward genuine democracy, and they have not yet seized that opportunity."

0057 Tamer Hanna in Cairo writes: "I heard Mubarak's statement over and over. It reads "transferred all powers under the constitution to the vice president". This was also confirmed by vice president Mr. Suleiman. That is practically quitting, although people were angry to the point that they could no longer listen when he got to that point."
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0056 Al-Jazeera English online producer Evan Hill tweets: "Don't see how Mubarak stays the month. What power base supports him now? Not the army, not the West, not the people. Something's gotta happen."

0048The BBC's Laura Trevelyan in New York spoke to Egyptian ex-patriots in New York's Queens borough. Hesham Barakat told her: "It's enough for him. Thirty years in power. We're looking for freedom now." Our correspondent describes seeing elation, followed by bitter disappointment, frustration, confusion and fear for their country in the people she talked to.

0045 Sherif Bahloul in Cairo writes: "This extraordinary tenacity can only lead to one conclusion: the man, and the clique surrounding him, have committed really enormous crimes, both financial and political, and they need as much time as they can to try and conceal their traces from the eyes of this heroic revolution."
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0043The BBC's Jon Donnison in Gaza says it is difficult to generalise about Arab opinion on the Egypt uprising. "On the one hand, here in Gaza you've got supporters of Hamas who really have welcomed the uprising because they feel close to the Muslim Brotherhood." But, he says, pro-democracy activists are also inspired to speak out against Hamas, which controls Gaza, and there are calls for a demonstration there on Friday against the movement.

0040Ms Dunne tells the BBC: "I'm very concerned that the demonstrators are going to feel that they have to force the army into a choice." She says the army may have thought that Mr Mubarak's delegation of some powers to Vice-President Omar Suleiman would satisfy the protesters. She says: "A march to the presidential palace, hundreds of thousands of people moving through Cairo, will really test the army."

0034Michele Dunne, senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, tells the BBC that other Arab autocrats are doing what they can to keep their own populations quiet. "They don't want to see Mubarak go, they certainly don't want to see him disgraced or chased from his country."

0022 Dina Amr Helmy in Cairo writes: "I cannot believe this. There are no words good enough to describe this situation. I am in shock, we were all waiting for the sun to shine but now all I see is more people getting killed and everyone expressing their frustration. If we can't call for our rights in this country, then how can change happen?"
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0020BBC World News America's Katty Kay suggests analysts who fear Egypt's future is a choice only between Islamic fundamentalism or a military strongman should watch the BBC's interview with Gigi Ibrahim.

0018 Rawya Rageh in Cairo tweets: "One #Tahrir square protester was in tears and screamed after Mubarak speech: 'If we'd been talking to a wall, it would have understood us'"

0015The BBC's Katty Kay says we are still waiting for a promised statement from the White House. "I think that there's a sense in the White House that saying nothing at moments like this might be the best course. Anything they say risks back-firing."

0014 Mohamed Elshamy in Cairo writes: "This not only shows Mubarak's usual stubbornness, but also his lack of mental health. His speech is dangling between very late and very sentimental. He couldn't even win the crowd although he moved his authority to his vice president but in the very wrong way. Bottom line, I am going to Tahrir Square tomorrow."
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0011Political activist Gigi Ibrahim, in Tahrir Square, tells BBC World News America: "The people were chanting against Mubarak and against Omar Suleiman. They were chanting for him to leave and to step down even before the speech was done. Mubarak has said nothing that was new or meaningful. People don't want to see any kind of person that was installed by Mubarak. Omar Suleiman is as illegitimate as Hosni Mubarak in the eyes of the people in the square."

0006 Ahmed Raafat in Cairo writes: "Mubarak's speech made the protesters more angry. I was in Tahrir Square during his speech. People here expected something new, but all they got is disappointed. We reached a point where there's no way back. We'll keep fighting until we get our rights back. Fear has been defeated, there's no way back."
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0002Al-Arabiya TV reports the Egyptian army may issue a second statement tonight. Earlier, the army announced its higher council would "remain in continuous session" without Mr Mubarak to "discuss what measures and arrangements could be taken to safeguard the homeland".

2359From Washington, Stephen McInerney of the Project on Middle East Democracy tells the BBC of Mr Mubarak: "He's not rebuking the diktats of Washington. What he's doing is rebuking the demands of the Egyptian people". Mr McInerney was referring to Mr Mubarak's declaration earlier that he "never bent to foreign diktats".

2353British-Egyptian actor Khalid Abdalla in Cairo tells the BBC: "Hosni Mubarak's words sounded like a provocation. People don't understand what planet he's living on."

2351The BBC's United Nations correspondent Barbara Plett says delegates are discussing Egypt in the corridors of the UN building, if not in public: "People don't want to take a position in public, because they're watching carefully, worried about their own countries."

2347 Yasser Seif in Cairo tweets: "Around 2,000 protesters are marching from #Tahrir towards the presidential palace in Heliopolis."

2343A protester in Cairo who says he travelled from the US to join the protest in Tahrir Square tells CNN of Mr Mubarak: "He's still playing the same game, he's playing with the constitution. He doesn't offer anything new. He isn't listening to the people."

2337A protester named as Mohamed, who says he has now left Tahrir Square and will return on Friday, says: "There's been outrage here at all levels. It needs to be clear to everybody - something that is clear to many Egyptians - that even if the president delegates power to the vice-president, constitutionally that does not delegate the power to dissolve the parliament, to sack the cabinet. It is clear the president is keeping these powers in his own hands. It's been a disappointment at very high levels."

2329The BBC's Kim Ghattas in Washington says both Mr Suleiman and Mr Mubarak sounded quite upset and quite resentful of everything that had been said in foreign capitals - and assumes they mean Washington in particular. It sounds like the relationship between Mr Suleiman and Mr Mubarak and Washington may be broken.

2326 Pakinam Amer tweets: "Groups of people now are marching towards Talaat Harb. Not clear where they're heading."

2322A spokesman for the Egyptian embassy in Washington - Karim Hagag - tells the BBC Vice-President Omar Suleiman is now the "de facto" president of Egypt. He said he could confirm that the Egyptian ambassador in Washington had said in an interview with CNN that Mr Mubarak had transferred the powers of the presidency to his vice-president. Mr Mubarak, the spokesman said, remained the "de jure" president, meaning Mr Suleiman is now the "de facto" president.

2313 The BBC's Paul Adams in Tahrir Square says the army seems more nervous than it had been before: "People are talking about the possibility of marches tomorrow, of going to the presidential palace, and that they know that could be a gauntlet to the army. But a number of people were insisting that the army remained neutral, even though there was a slight suspicion they were lied to earlier in the day when they were told 'tonight you will get all your demands '. They still believe the army is neutral."

2311Israel's defence minister Ehud Barak managed to look on the bright side when asked about Mr Mubarak's speech, saying: "I think in spite of all the turbulence around us we should look for opportunities within those difficulties rather than to spiral into a sense of too heavy uncertainty that paralyses us from acting toward a better and more stable region."

2306 Ahmed Aly, a businessman who was not in Tahrir Square, had a more favourable view of Mr Mubarak's speech, which he said was "very emotional and decent". "The president did what the youth requested, he left power but in a decent way that preserves his dignity and that of the Egyptian people ... All that has happened are great achievements that we would have never been able to achieve without the revolution led by the youth on 25 Jan."

2304 Ismail Zakaria, a 45-year-old teacher protesting in Cairo, tells Reuters: "The speech was unprecedented in its stubbornness and foolishness. Tomorrow I am heading to the palace in protest. Until Mubarak falls, there is no turning back."

2255 Marawa Sharafeldn was in Tahrir Square to watch Mr Mubarak's address. She tells the BBC: "This regime will not be able to carry out these promised changes. They are constantly out of step with us. This regime has lost credibility. How can we trust this regime anymore?"

2253 Robert Springborg, from the US Naval Postgraduate School tells Reuters Egypt's leaders are desperate men. He says: "The speeches tonight are not intended to bring an end to the crisis in a peaceful way but to inflame the situation so there is justification for the imposition of direct military rule. They are risking not only the coherence of the military, but even indeed - and I use this term with advisement here - civil war."

2246 The ambassador says Mr Suleiman is now the "de facto head of state".

2243 CNN's Ivan Watson tweets: "Sameh Shoukry, Egyptian Ambassador to US on CNN: Mubarak "transferred all powers under the constitution to the Vice President."

2240 A reminder about Mohamed ElBaradei: He is a former UN nuclear chief and Nobel Peace Prize winner and has become a figurehead of the opposition movement. He lives in Vienna, but returned to Egypt on 27 January as protests were building. He has a low profile within Egypt, but has announced several times he is willing to run for president if there were guarantees of free and fair elections.

2234 You can find extensive coverage of the ongoing crisis - including background information, key events, and interactive maps - on the BBC's Egypt Unrest special report page.

2233 Mohamed ElBaradei tweets: "Egypt will explode. Army must save the country now."

2230 The BBC's Kim Ghattas tweets: "US official tells me 'trying to decipher exactly what speech means, how far transfer of power goes, but this not enough for crowd in Tahrir'."

2227 Witnesses in Egyptian Rafah say an Egyptian security forces facility came under attack from local Bedouins and there is an ongoing gunfire, but no news of any casualties, reports the BBC's Jon Donnison in Gaza City.

2223 Reacting to the latest developments, France's President Nicolas Sarkozy says: "I hope with all my heart for Egypt's nascent democracy that they take time to create the structures and principles that will help them find the path to democracy and not another form of dicatorship, religious dicatorship, like what happened in Iran."

2220 Heba Elkayal tweets: "Let's not lose the respect & credibility we've gained by turning violent, kill them with peace #jan25 #Egypt."

2218The BBC's Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen sums up a fast-moving few hours: There was a meeting of the army's high command without the president or vice president, and afterwards they issued a communique saying they would safeguard the wishes of the people. It seemed very much like the army had taken control of the country - indeed that is how it was written up by some people. But Mr Mubarak is a military man, he has connections there. And it seems like army may not be speaking with one voice at the moment.

2216 Vice-President Omar Suleiman said he had been empowered by Mr Mubarak to preserve the security and stability in Egypt and restore normality. He said he was committed to doing whatever he could to ensure a peaceful transfer of power in accordance with the constitution, and to protect what he called the revolution of the people.

2208 If you're just joining this live coverage of events in Egypt, welcome. Protesters who have occupied Cairo's Tahrir Square for the past 17 days have reacted angrily to a TV address by President Mubarak in which he said once more than he would not stand down before the next elections. The mood in the square is of disappointment, say correspondents. Most people had thought tonight was the night he would announce his resignation.

2205 Ali Habibi tweets: "Protesters heading to the national TV building."

2201State TV is still showing images from the square, but without sound, so without the deafening crowd noise that other broadcasters are trying to speak over.

2159UK Foreign Secretary William Hague says it is still unclear what powers have been transferred by Mr Mubarak. Mr Hague once again reiterates his desire for a peaceful transition of power, adding: "The solution has to be owned by the Egyptian people themselves."

2156 Robert Danin from the Council of Foreign Relations in Washington tells the BBC World Service: "It seems to me that behind the scenes there must be some sort of power play taking place between the military and the president. It's really quite bizarre that the president would stand up, especially on a Thursday night, and essentially antagonise the crowd on the eve of a Friday, traditionally the most volatile day for protests in the Arab world. So tomorrow's going to be quite a day I expect."

2154 ashraf khalil tweets: "Egypt: Another chant, 'Bukra Al Asr, Nirooh 3al Qasr'..Tomorrow afternoon, we march to the Palace."

2149Military expert Ali Shukri from Oxford University tells the BBC World Service he thinks the army is siding with the government and intends to "support President Mubarak totally to the end. I think we are approaching a moment when the army will have to make a real choice on the ground."

2147First reaction from the US - White House spokesman Robert Gibbs says President Obama will meet his national security team at the White House on Thursday.

2143Mamoun Mandy (see entry at 2110) tells the BBC: "This is the first time I've been convinced that the people around Mubarak gave him a distorted image of what has been going on on the ground. On the ground, you'd never remotely think that speech was acceptable. It was written from a pre-25 January world which has no connection with what's going on on the ground. I am so worried about the future of this city. Mubarak's regime has only a few hours to decide: is it Mubarak or Egypt? If they do not accept the demands of the people, I think we are in for something really ugly tonight."

2141It's doubtful anyone in Tahrir Square heard Mr Suleiman's speech - the noise of chants and horns is deafening.

2138Full quote from Mr Suleiman: "The 25 January movement has succeeded in making a change in the party of democracy, history has begun. Constitutional decisions have been taken, commissions were formed to implement what the president decided in terms of directives in his 1 February speech. What the president announced today stresses once again his national feeling and his siding with the legitimate demands of the people and his commitment to the many pledges he made in the past. It also proves his awareness of the seriousness of the situation that Egypt is going through. The president had put the supreme interests of the people above everything else."

2136Suleiman: I will do whatever I can to implement a peaceful transition of power.

2135Suleiman: I have been empowered to preserve Mr Mubarak's achievements.

2134Suleiman: January 25th protest movement has won, constitutional changes have been made.

2133Vice President Omar Suleiman is speaking live.

2133 Ahmed Mekkawy in Alexandria tweets: "North area military command center is getting totally surrounded by protestors. I swear something big will happen in Alexandria today."

2132 Amr Waked tweets: "The army should never accept this. They will intervene I hope. He has lost."

2131 Journalist Joseph Mayton tweets: "Speech was eerily similar to last week's, with 'some' difference, suleiman, constitution, etc. let's hope violence does not come."

2130 Everyone speaking to the BBC repeats the same word: disappointed.

2128Journalist Lina Wardani tells the BBC: "Thousands of angry Egyptians are moving now towards the presidential palace. I think things will change tonight or tomorrow morning. I don't expect these angry masses to go home or wait until tomorrow. These people are not going to go home. It's not only Tahrir, it's all the streets to downtown. People are chanting 'down with the regime'."

2127There's also disappointment outside of Cairo. Amir in Alexandria tells the BBC: "[Mubarak's offer] was too late. Maybe a few days ago it would have been accepted. Mubarak is the symbol of this corruption. I'm expecting a lot of protests."

2125The BBC's Magdi Abdelhadi in Tahrir Square says: The president's speech has sown confusion, as it is not clear if there is a split between the Mr Mubarak and the army. The army said that they were in charge and they responded positively to the people "legitimate demands". And these demands included Mr Mubarak to go and to go immediately. Is the President going to try to take the country in one direction, and the army in another? We are really waiting for another statement from for the army to elucidate what actually is going on.

2122The BBC Paul Adams in Tahrir Square reports: "The mood in Tahrir Square has changed dramatically in the wake of President Mubarak's televised address. There is a deafening roar rising from the crowd with numerous chants calling for an end to the regime and "revolution till we die". The mood contrasts dramatically with the celebratory, almost party atmosphere that existed in the hours running up to his statement on television."

2119A protester in Tahrir Square, tells the BBC: "There is extreme disappointment in Tahrir tonight. This was not the speech the nation was waiting for and was certainly not the speech the protesters in Tahrir were waiting for. Right now there seems to be confusion. There are a lot of people walking out of the square very disappointed, you have more people saying they are leaving right now but just getting a good night's sleep before they come back tomorrow for another very long, very large protest ."

2116Another quote from Mr Mubarak's speech: "I believe that the majority of Egyptians know who Hosni Mubarak is and it pains me what has been expressed by some people from my own country. I am aware of the dangers facing us and out of my belief that Egypt is going through a very significant phase in its history, this compels us all to put the interests of the nation first and put Egypt above any consideration."

2115Full quotes from Mr Mubarak's speech: "I was a young man as well when I joined the military and pledged to the nation and sacrificed to the nation. I spent my life defending Egypt's life and sovereignty. The best days of my life were when I raised the flag of Egypt over the Sinai and when I flew plans in Addis Ababa. There was no day when I was affected or gave in to foreign pressure."

2113 Journalist Matthew Cassel in Cairo tweets: "Crowd furious, holding shoes to screen chanting "irhal."

2112If you're just joining us, President Mubarak says he is staying until September. The reaction from the protesters has been anger and disappointment.

2110Egyptian academic Mamoun Fandy says Mr Mubarak's words "will not wash". He says: "These young people are too smart. I don't know whether the disaster will start tonight or tomorrow, but we're in for a huge confrontation. Whoever wrote that speech is living in a bubble."

2107Boos and jeers ring out from Tahrir Square. They're not happy.

2106 Nevine tweets: " BRAVO Mubarak: gather up an angry 3 million in Tahrir and make them even more angry!"

2105Reports say Mr Mubarak is delegating power to his vice-president. It seems he is not stepping down, but he is handing some responsibilities to his deputy.

2058 Channel 4's Jonathan Rugman tweets: "Mubarak: 'peaceful transition till September'. Still sounds as if he did not get memo from Tahrir Sq."

2057As Mubarak continues to talk, it is now very clear that he will not be announcing his departure from power. He has made it clear he will stay on until September elections. It is highly unlikely this will go down well with the crowds gathered in Tahrir Square.

2052Mubarak: Peaceful transfer of power will take place from now until September.

2051Mubarak: Looks forward to continuing to rule with the support of all of those people who are eager for the safety and stability of Egypt.

2050Mubarak: I will not stand down until an elected government can take over.

2048Mubarak: I will not listen to diktats from abroad.

2047Promises to punish those who injured and killed protesters.

2046Egypt is calling for a change, he says.

2046Mr Mubarak is live on state TV.

2042State TV is now showing a split screen - on one side are images from Tahrir Square, on the other a video on the logistics of producing uniforms for the army. There's still no sign of Mr Mubarak, but the channel has been saying for several hours that his speech is coming up "soon". They seem to be filling time.

2038Al-Arabiya TV appears to have inside track on what Mr Mubarak's speech will contain. The channel is suggesting he will transfer powers to his vice-president. This sounds less like stepping down, more like moving aside.

2036Egyptians have for several hours been expecting Mr Mubarak to miss his TV appearance. The hashtag #reasonsMubarakislate has been trending on Twitter. Among the suggested reasons: "He's still queuing by the Saudi embassy to get his visa", "he's not really stepping down" and "he's not late, everyone else is just early."

2034Al-Arabiya says when Mr Mubarak does appear he will apologise to families of people who died, amend five clauses in the constitution and hand over power to his deputy, Omar Suleiman. He will also reject foreign "dictations", says the channel, citing "trusted sources".

2028 Dima Khatib tweets: "Mubarak is too proud to step down.. to say it himself.. NO WAY.. honestly I would be surprised if he did."

2021Egyptian TV is now broadcasting a promotional video for Egypt - images of hardworking people, modern businesses, tourist sites and sporting achievements. Still no president.

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2020Nada Hesham, from Cairo, writes: "Everyone is waiting in anticipation. Rumours flying around everywhere, fact is we don't know what Mubarak will say… we don't know if what he says will be enough. We can only hope that he finally listened to us, the people of Egypt. We are optimistic... very optimistic and we are proud to be Egyptians."

2018US intelligence chief James Clapper rejects criticism that US intelligence services missed warning signs of turmoil in Egypt, the BBC website reports.

2013The BBC's Laura Trevelyan in Little Egypt (Queens, New York) has talked to Nasser Kamel, a doctor who left Egypt in 2007. He says he feels as if he has died and been reborn. His dream has been realised, and he longs to visit a democratic Egypt.

2011Egyptian state TV is currently broadcasting a global weather forecast. Possibly not what most people have tuned in for.

2010The BBC's Jon Donnison in Gaza says all eyes are on the TV: "People are watching events over the border closely. Most people I've spoken to seem to want President Mubarak to go. But for different reasons. Hamas supporters because they feel solidarity the Egyptian Islamist movement the Muslim Brotherhood. But some young pro-democracy activists are hoping the Egyptian uprising might inspire similar protests against Hamas."

2010 Whael Khairy tweets: "Any second now - high expectations, anticipation and worries of disappointment. The most suspenseful hour in years has come to an end."

2002The scheduled start time of Mr Mubarak's speech has passed, but he hasn't appeared yet. We'll let you know when he does.

1959Ahmed, a demonstrator in Tahrir Square, tell BBC World Service: "I am still feeling that I am in a dream. I never even dreamt that I would see this day when millions of Egyptians are taking to the streets and asking for their freedom and their rights. This is a moment of our history that we will all remember and that we will be proud of."

1955We're now five minutes away from the scheduled start of Mr Mubarak's national TV address. We'll be carrying it live on the website.

1950 Al-Jazeera correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin tweets: "Significant change in editorial policy of Egypt state tv - no longer portraying protests negatively in past few hours, more aggressive."

1948 Activist Gigi Ibrahim tweets: "Tahrir square is on fire, every inch of cement is covered with people chanting 'Leave "Invalid" Mubarak'."

1947The BBC's Mark Mardell in Washington says: The US will not be happy if the army simply takes over in Egypt. The White House wants to see real democratic reforms, not least because of the worry that the alternative is further demonstrations, perhaps with an added anti-Western tinge. Read and comment on Mark Mardell's blog.

1945Sincere apologies for the sporadic delays in these updates - there is a technical issue, and we're working on it. Please bear with us, and keep following the latest events on the live video stream.

1941Former UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, who earlier said he thought the significance of the unrest was being exaggerated, tells BBC World Service: "I am just hoping for the best, I am hoping that this will begin a new era where we will be able, first of all, to reconstruct what has been demolished and, secondly, begin to construct a new Egypt."

1937The BBC's diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus says: What happens next in Egypt could have enormous consequences for the Middle East. When Tunisians overthrew their government it was like dropping a stone into a pond, and the ripples spread out through the Middle East. If a country of the standing and the stature of Egypt is able to overthrow authoritarian rule - and we're by no means at that point yet - that's like dropping a bolder into the pond and the shockwave that spreads out in the wider Middle East could be absolutely considerable.

1930 Journalist Ashraf Khalil tweets: "Wife tweeting for me as I am in Tahrir Square: mood is beyond euphoric. Saw a Conga line chanting "Hosni's leaving Tonight."

1915 Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times tweets: "I worry that the Egyptian army's plan may be to have a Mubarak-style govt without Mubarak. Am I too pessimistic?"

1923Sources close to the army tell the BBC's Christian Fraser in Cairo that the military stepped in to stop the president handing power to his second in command Omar Suleiman.

1920 Journalist Sharif Kouddous tweets: "Electricity in the air in Tahrir. Absolutely packed. Many think tonight could be the night. We wait for news."

1919 Mona Abd-El Aziz tweets: "It's not only Egypt, it's the whole world watching. It's Mubarak's last chance to 'mend' a bit of what he's done and leave with dignity."

1915 Wael Gonhim, the Google executive who has had a prominent role in the protests, tweets: "Revolution 2.0. Mission Accomplished. Heading to Tahrir."

1911The BBC's Paul Adams in Cairo describes the atmosphere in Tahrir Square: "It's a bit like a rock concert before the band comes on stage."

1907The BBC's Wyre Davies in Jerusalem says the worst-case scenario for Israel would be if Mr Mubarak resigns, new elections are held and the subsequent government is hostile to Israel.

1906President Mubarak will announce constitutional procedures before handing over his powers to the vice president, Al- Arabiya TV said on Thursday, citing its own correspondent.

1852 Journalist Shahira Amin in Tahrir Square tells the BBC World Service that "people thought Egypt was like a mountain that would never be moved", and that people in Cairo are cherishing what seems to be a victory. "The next two months are going to be crucial for Egypt. I am certain that political reforms will be implemented. We cannot go back to the old days."

1851These protests began weeks ago amid anger of rising food prices and corruption, problems Egypt is not alone in suffering. For more information on what sparked the unrest and what impact it might have, read the BBC's Q&A.

1847The BBC's Steve Kingstone in Washington was watching Mr Obama's speech in Michigan. He says that the key word in the statement was "genuine". Washington wants to know what follows next if President Mubarak resigns, our correspondent adds.

1845 The UK's Foreign Secretary William Hague says the Egyptian authorities have been too slow in responding to the protests. "If they had been prepared to say a few weeks ago things they have been prepared to say in the past week, then there would have been a more stable situation and less powerful demonstrations. Steadily, they have been pushed along by the force and numbers of the demonstrations."

1843 The BBC's Paul Adams in Tahrir Square says: "People are daring to hope that this is what they've been waiting for. This could turn out to be a decisive moment in Egypt's winter revolution, but there are still plenty of questions to answer. Even as they celebrate, the protestors wait for the president to make his intentions clear."

1840 Speaking in Michigan, President Obama says the world is "witnessing history unfold" in Egypt. He says that the "people of Egypt are calling for change," and repeats his call for an "orderly and genuine transition to democracy".

1839 Earlier in the protests, Mr Mubarak had promised he was going to stand down at elections to be held in September - but that was not enough for the people on the streets. Many said they did not trust him to keep his word.

1829 Activist Mona in Tahrir Square tells the BBC World Service she is concerned about the current uncertainty and the "very conflicting reports" about who will take over. She says she would feel more comfortable with the army temporarily taking over rather than Vice President Omar Suleiman. "For many people he is just a mirror image of the present regime."

1828 Egyptian blogger Sandmonkey tweets: "There isn't an empty inch in Tahrir."

1825 Thursday, the 17th day of the protests in Tahrir Square, has been a day of mass strikes and walkouts across Egypt. Doctors joined bus drivers, lawyers and textile workers on the streets to demand change.

1824President Obama will make comments on the situation in Egypt at 1830 GMT, a White House spokesman is quoted as saying by Reuters.

1823 BBC's Lyse Doucet tweets: "Mood electric in Cairo. Palpable sense of anticipation. What will Mubarak say tonight?"

1821 The BBC's Fergus Nicoll in Tahrir Square says people are waiting for the army to clarify its position. "Everybody is on tenterhooks." He tells the BBC World Service people on the Square are following radio broadcasts and news on their laptops. "If something dramatic happens the place will go bananas."

1815 Welcome to the BBC's live coverage of the dramatic events in Egypt if you're just joining. President Hosni Mubarak is expected to address the country in the next few hours, with many of the tens of thousands of people in Tahrir Square anticipating this will be the moment he will resign after weeks of protests.

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1812 Mohamed Yousef in Alexandria, Egypt writes: "The New Face of Egypt: a face which shows expression rather than hides it; a face that smiles from deep within at the changes and what this will mean for our children; a face with eyes that sparkle with hope and gladness."

1810 The BBC's Paul Adams in Cairo says: "It certainly has the trappings of coup - the sense that the military is in charge. That could be welcome. If it becomes apparent to the crowd that all the elements of the regime which they so despise are removed from the picture, this will be seen as a triumphant vindication of the relationship between the people and the army."

1805Lina Wardani from al-Ahram newspaper tells BBC World Service that many demonstrators in Tahrir Square now believe Mubarak is definitely going, and that the military is with them, not against them: "Families are coming to the square to celebrate here, it really is a carnival."

1804 The BBC's Paul Adams in Cairo says it is getting dark and cold in Cairo, but the mood in Tahrir Square is one of euphoria.

1803 NBC News tweets: "Police pull back from Tahrir to 'prepare for any scenario' when and if Mubarak speaks."

1754Vice-President Omar Suleiman is widely thought to be the man who'll take over from Mr Mubarak if he goes. The BBC website has a new piece about the former intelligence chief.

1751Just so nobody feels uninformed, it is possible to read the full constitution online.

1749Adding to the entry at 1739, there is another article in the constitution which states: "In case the President of the Republic , due to any temporary obstacle, is unable to carry out his functions, he shall delegate his powers to a vice-president."

1745The BBC's Lyse Doucet in Cairo says: "In Egyptian culture, you don't ask your father to leave the house. But tonight, we're about to hear what could be an absolutely dramatic announcement. He may not say he's stepping down, he may say he's stepping aside, but every day something historic is happening in Egypt."

1739Some intriguing detail from the Egyptian constitution: If the president resigns or dies, the office passes temporarily to the speaker of parliament (at the current time Fathi Surour). The speaker would be acting president for 60 days, after which an election would have to be held, with the winner getting a full six-year term. Mr Surour would not be eligible to be a candidate in this election.

1735The US has been relatively quiet so far as events move quickly in Cairo. Barack Obama has simply told reporters: "We're going to have to wait to see what's going on."

1733Egyptian state TV shows footage of Mr Mubarak and Vice-President Omar Suleiman deep in discussion. There was no way of verifying whether the meeting was taking place today.

1730 Matthew Cassel, a photographer in Cairo tweets: "Wherever Mubarak is in Egypt, the energy coming from Tahrir right now will drive him out of the country tonight."

1726Writing earlier today for the Huffington Post, Alon Ben-Mair of New York University's Global Affairs department warned Egyptians against rushing to oust their president: "Mubarak's ultimate fate will send a very strong signal to the rest of the Arab states. No Arab leader wants to leave his office in disgrace; they will resist and resort to any coercive means at their disposal to stay in power. Egypt can provide an example of an orderly transfer of power, allowing its leader to depart in a manner befitting Egypt's standing."

1725 Engy Ghozlan in Cairo tweets: "Me and sister talking dad into going to Tahrir NOW! :D"

1721The rumours about Mr Mubarak's whereabouts continue, with state TV saying he is at the presidential palace in Cairo, in talks with his vice-president.

1719The BBC's security correspondent Frank Gardner says Arab sources are telling him that Mr Mubarak has flown to Sharm el-Sheikh - but there is no confirmation as yet.

1717Essam al-Erian, a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood - the banned Islamist movement which is one of the main political opposition groups in Egypt - tells Reuters he is concerned by the latest development. "It looks like a military coup... I feel worry and anxiety. The problem is not with the president it is with the regime."

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1715Selim Khalil, from Cairo, writes: "The whole city is abuzz with this rumour but if Mubarak does not go tonight all hell will break loose with the huge crowds in Tahrir Square hyped up."

1712 Firas Al-Atraqchi in Cairo tweets: "Democracy! Liberty! Freedom of the Press! No Emergency Laws! Respect for Human Rights! These are the goals."

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1710Mostafa, from Cairo, writes: "This is the best news that I have heard until now. There are mixed emotions here - we are happy that after 30 years Mubarak will step down, but we fear the instability that might happen in the coming days."

1710Hussein Omar, who is among the crowds in Tahrir Square, tells the BBC: "Hundreds of people are walking into the square, people are singing nationalist songs, most people I've spoken to seem to think that the president has already fled. People are gathering round a massive screen that has been erected in the square, awaiting the address from the presidential palace."

1656Privately owned Al-Yawn Al-Sabi newspaper says "well-informed sources" in state TV have told them Mr Mubarak will give a speech at 10pm (2000 GMT) to announce his resignation - but there has not yet been any official confirmation.

1655The BBC's Magdi Abdelhadi in Cairo says: "It's slightly ambiguous whether the army has staged a coup, or if they're just going to respond to the people's demands and have Mubarak pushed to the side. So clearly, this might turn into a very long night for the people in Tahrir Square."

1654 Arabzy tweets: "Tahrir Square now: Chants, Music, and Whistles. This isn't a protest, this is a huge concert."

1652CIA chief Leon Panetta has stressed to reporters that he does not have "specific word" Mr Mubarak will resign, Reuters reports (see entry at 1600).

1651The BBC website now has a new picture gallery on the newly resurgent air of optimism in Tahrir Square.

1649The BBC's Steve Kingstone in Washington says the White House is being very cautious so far, with spokesman Robert Gibbs saying the situation is "very fluid", President Obama is "watching very closely", and Washington's priority is a transition to free and fair elections. That is likely to continue to be the line coming out of Washington.

1645Katerina Dalacoura from the London School of Economics tells the BBC: "We're seeing in fact continuity from the previous situation, and what will determine the situation in future is how the army will handle the transition to a government which will hopefully be more open and more democratically accountable than the one that came before."

1639The BBC's Wyre Davies in Israel says the events in Egypt are being watched closely: "Clearly, Israel is very worried about events - but there has been no formal statement yet, they are waiting to see how the dust settles. They see him as a strong man, an ally in the regime. Mr Mubarak stamped down on Islamist political parties in the country, and that is perhaps exactly what the Israelis wanted to see from an Egyptian government, and what they wanted to continue."

1638If you're just joining our live coverage of Egypt's unfolding political crisis - welcome. The main strands of the story so far are that senior officials have said publicly for the first time that President Mubarak should step down. The army says its higher council will stay in "continuous" session without Mr Mubarak. Many protesters have already said they will not accept a Mubarak appointee as his replacement. Mr Mubarak is going to address the nation later on Thursday.

1631 Egyptocracy in Egypt tweets: "To everyone in this revolution, we do not want this to turn into an army coup d'etat. This is a civil revolution!"

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1628Charity, from Cairo, writes: "We are happy and relieved about this news and hope Suleiman and Shafiq will include all groups and create a real representative government."

1627 The BBC's Lyse Doucet tweets: "Driving thru Cairo traffic. People already beeping horns & waving V for victory signs."

1627 The BBC's Kim Ghattas in Washington says: "It sounds as though here in Washington, they are simply watching the reports coming out of Egypt themselves, trying to understand what exactly is unfolding. Certainly this does fit into what Washington has been trying to achieve over the last two weeks or so. They have been making it clear to Mubarak that the transition had to start now, and had to be orderly. They never came out in public to say Mubarak had to leave but in all their messages it seemed pretty certain this is what they wanted him to do."

1626 Mosa'ab Elshamy tweets: "If it turns out the army will rule us now, we'll take break for the weekend and start another revolution."

1624 Hisham Kassem in Egypt tweets: "The last thing I imagined when I opened a Facebook and Twitter account that these sites would bring about the end of Mubarak."

1622Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq, who helped start the rumours of an imminent departure (see entry at 1528), appears to roll back to some extent, telling state TV: "No decisions have been passed on from the president. Everything is normal. Everything is still in the hands of the president."

1616Mr Badrawi outlined what he wants Mr Mubarak to say to the nation: "That he has fulfilled his promises to the people, he respects the requests of the young people in the street, and he is doing the right step to keep the country intact and hand the power to the vice-president."

1615Hossam Badrawi, the secretary-general of Mr Mubarak's party, reiterates to the BBC that he wants to see Mr Mubarak step aside, and says that is the position of the whole of the party.

1611Egypt's information minister Anas el-Fekky denies that Mr Mubarak is reaching the end of his presidency, telling Reuters: "The president is still in power and he is not stepping down... everything you heard in the media is a rumour."

1609BBC Arabic's Dima Azzdin, who interviewed Hossam Badrawi, says the general secretary of the ruling party told her that President Mubarak was now more concerned with Egypt's security and he did not care about his post any more.

1606The BBC's Paul Adams in Tahrir Square says there are many people in the square who will not believe Mr Mubarak has gone until they have heard him confirming that he has stepped down.

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1605Jose Maria Magrina, from New Cairo, writes: "In my area there's a very tense calm. I have already received some texts from those taking part in the demonstrations saying 'the game is over'. There is a general widespread rumour in the streets that Mubarak will leave today."

1604 Deena Adil in Egypt tweets: "Holy canoli. Is this real? Did we win? I have the hiccups, that's how excited I am. I hope this is real."

1602 Egyptian blogger Sandmonkey tweets: "Thousands are heading to Tahrir carrying flags :)."

1600The head of the CIA says there is a strong likelihood that Mr Mubarak will stand down tonight, Reuters reports.

1559Here's the full text of that army council meeting: "In the name of God, Statement No 1, issued by the Higher Council of the Armed Forces, stemming from the armed forces' responsibility and committing to the protection of the people, safeguarding their interest and security, and keen on the safety of the homeland, the citizens and the achievements of the great Egyptian people, and asserting the legitimate rights of the people, the Higher Council of the Armed Forces convened today, Thursday 10 February 2011, to deliberate on the latest developments of the situation and decided to remain in continuous session to discuss what measures and arrangements could be taken to safeguard the homeland and its achievements, and the aspirations of the great Egyptian people. Peace, mercy and the blessings of God."

1557 A government official tells Reuters: "A decision about the president staying or leaving is coming within hours."

1556 Beleidy in Cairo tweets: "Mubarak giving all powers to Omar Suleiman doesn't mean anything if it happens, it's still the same system."

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1555Mayada Eid, from Cairo, writes: "We just hope that both parties leave: President Mubarak and the protesters to leave Tahrir Square! We need to start reform asap."

1552 The BBC's Lyse Doucet in Cairo says: "The army are not moving against President Mubarak, at least visibly yet, but they also did not want to be seen to move against their people, because they have a continuing role to play here. We've known from the beginning the army would play a pivotal role, and that is being confirmed tonight in Cairo."

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1551Asmaa Hannaf, from Egypt, writes: "Not only must Mubarak step down but also all the main figures of his party. We will accept nothing less than that."

1549 onWave tweets: "A Google guy used Facebook to bring down a dictator. This should be an interesting decade."

1547More detail on the high-level military meeting (see entry at 1536): Senior military officials tell state TV that Mr Mubarak was supposed be chairing the meeting, but it will now be chaired by Defence Minister General Mohammed Hussein Tantawi.

1545 Wael Gonhim, the Google executive who has had a prominent role in the protests, tweets: "Mission accomplished. Thanks to all the brave young Egyptians."

1544Eyewitnesses in Tahrir Square tell BBC Arabic that an army general has just stood on the stage that the protesters built there, and assured the crowds that all their demands will be accepted.

1543BBC's Lyse Doucet says reports she has been getting from some opposition negotiators is that Omar Suleiman is not acting in good faith, is still acting in a paternalistic fashion, and is still not getting the message that the protesters want a different kind of politics.

1540As expected, protesters are already looking past Mr Mubarak to the future of the government. Activist Gigi Ibrahim, in Tahrir Square, tells the BBC that Mr Mubarak stepping down would be a huge success for the movement, but it would be meaningless if he installs a leader to take over from him.

1537Huge cheer in Cairo's Tahrir Square, the centre of the protest movement, where news of an imminent announcement is filtering through.

1536AFP news agency reports that the army's supreme council is meeting without President Mubarak. In a statement, they said they would take "necessary measures to protect the nation and support the legitimate demands of the people".

1533 Ashraf Khalil, a freelance journalist in Cairo tweets: "Like in Tunisia, the protesters want not just the departure of Mubarak, but the dismantling of his party and system."

1532 Reuters reports that army commander Hassan al-Roweny has addressed told protesters in Tahrir Square "Everything you want will be realised"

1532The BBC's Paul Adams in Cairo says for the past hour the internet has been alive with talk of the possibility that Mr Mubarak will relinquish his control over the army, or make a statement to the nation.

1528 Translation of the key question in the BBC's interview with Prime Minister Shafiq. BBC Arabic interviewer asks: "Wasn't the protesters' message clear for President Mubarak to step down and pass his responsibilities to Vice President Omar Suleiman." Ahmed Shafiq replies: "What you say is being discussed now. Whether it is positive or negative, this will be clarified soon."

1523 Channel 4 international editor Lindsey Hilsum tweets: "Dr Hossam Badrawi told me in 3 mtgs yday and phone call 2day he convinced President Mubarak to pass powers to VP Suleiman."

1522Hossam Badrawi, secretary general of the ruling NDP, tells the BBC that Mr Mubarak will "probably" address the nation tonight, and he says he hopes Mr Mubarak will hand over power to Vice-President Omar Suleiman.

1517In an interview with BBC Arabic, Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq confirms that the scenario of President Mubarak stepping down is being discussed. He says whether it is positive or negative (ie whether he'll stay or go) will be clarified soon.

1510Welcome to the BBC's live coverage of events in Egypt. After more than two weeks of sustained anti-government protests, senior officials have admitted for the first time that President Hosni Mubarak's departure is being discussed. Stay with us for the latest updates, incorporating reports from our correspondents on the ground, expert analysis, and your reaction from around the world, which you can send via email, text or twitter. We'll publish what we can.

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