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Wednesday, February 2, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Oppostion split over terms for Mubarak's exit

CAIRO — Egypt's opposition has been split amid a decision to give President Hosni Mubarak until Feb. 4 to resign.


Opposition sources said the split has been seen between the traditional political opposition and new student-led groups. They said the key division is whether the opposition should oppose the prospect that Mubarak might leave his vice president, Omar Suleiman, in power until September.

"Everybody agrees that Mubarak has to leave now," an opposition source said. "But the old guard is prepared for Suleiman to run things until free elections in 2011, while the young guard is against this."

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On Feb. 1, Mubarak pledged that he would not seek another presidential term, Middle East Newsline reported. But the president vowed he would remain and "die on the soil of Egypt."

"Leave, leave," the crowd of more than 100,000 responded to Mubarak's televised speech.

The sources said the old guard included much of the Muslim Brotherhood, Wafd Party and Kefaya. The new protesters were identified as students, union activists and opposition bloggers.

"The new people are Western-educated and do not want any less than the opposition in Tunisia," the source said.

The divisions within the opposition were said to have surfaced during strategic sessions by the leadership over the last 24 hours. The sources said the new guard resisted proposals by the Brotherhood, which was supporting former International Atomic Energy Agency director-general Mohammed El Baradei.

"The younger people are very aware that they could be driven out of the opposition leadership once the Brotherhood achieves its aim," the source said.

So far, the new guard has been boycotting meetings of the opposition leadership. The sources said student groups have objected to a proposal by the Brotherhood and Wafd for a dialogue with Suleiman.

The sources said the United States has been in contact with a range of opposition groups, including the Brotherhood. But they said the State Department was said to have favored El Baradei, who favors a transitional government. At the same time, the Defense Department has been communicating with senior members of the Egyptian military.

At this point, the opposition was united that Mubarak must leave within days. The leadership has set a Feb. 4 deadline for the president to leave office, but elements of the coalition were prepared to allow the military to assume control for the next few months. One prospect was that Egyptian Chief of Staff Gen. Sami Einan replace Mubarak.

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