Egypt's Mubarak refuses to quit, hands VP powers

BROOKLYN - President Hosni Mubarak refused to step down orleave Egypt and instead handed most of his powers to his vicepresident Thursday, enraging protesters who warned the countrycould explode in violence and pleaded for the military to takeaction to push him out.

The rapidly moving events raised the question of whether a rifthad opened between Mubarak and the military command over theuprising demanding the president's resignation. Hours earlier, acouncil of the military's top generals announced it had stepped into secure the country, and a senior commander announced toprotesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square that all their demands wouldsoon be met, raising cries of victory that Mubarak was on his wayout.

Several hundred thousand had packed into Tahrir Square, ecstaticwith expectation that Mubarak would announce his resignation in hisnighttime address. Instead, they watched in shocked silence as hespoke, holding their foreheads in anger and disbelief. Some brokeinto tears. Others waved their shoes in the air in contempt. Afterthe speech, they broke into chants of "Leave, leave, leave."

Organizers called for even larger protests on Friday. AfterMubarak's speech, around 2,000 marched on the state televisionheadquarters several blocks away from Tahrir, guarded by themilitary with barbed wire and tanks. "They are the liars," thecrowd shouted, pointing at the building, chanting, "We won'tleave, they will leave."

Hundreds more massed outside Mubarak's main administrativepalace, Oruba, miles away from Tahrir in the Cairo district ofHeliopolis, the first time protesters have marched on it, accordingto witnesses and TV reports. The residence where Mubarak normallystays when he is in Cairo is inside the palace, though it was notknown if he was there.

Many residents who have ties to Egypt say they thought Mubarak would resign during his speech today. They also said they are worried about their friends and relatives over in Egypt and for the future of the country. AP wire services contributed to this report

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