I just watched Hosni Mubarak announce that he will be stepping down as President of Egypt in September and will not run in that month’s elections.
However, I do not think that this move will quell the protests. The protestors have of course been demanding that Mubarak resign immediately, but beyond that, there is a very good reason to think that this demand is non-negotiable for them. The problem is that Mubarak cannot make a credible commitment to allow a transition to multiparty democracy so long as he remains in power. These protests are the Egyptian people’s main chance. If they go home now, Mubarak could wait until the time is ripe, and then stack the electoral commission in his favor, hunt down the opposition leaders, and generally stage-manage a fake transition in September. Then it will be much more difficult for the opposition to gin up another round of effective protests. Even if Mubarak is sincere now, it will be impossible for him to persuade the opposition that he is. Therefore, the opposition will have to press their advantage as far as possible right now. At the minimum, I predict the protests will continue and probably escalate unless a coalition government including the main opposition leaders is negotiated, as occurred in Zimbabwe in 2009.