Egypt Update: Questions Of Safety, Succession

CIA director Leon Panetta told Congress on Thursday that there's a strong likelihood Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak will step down, and Mubarak is expected to make a statement. Top officials appeared on TV along with a statement about safeguarding the country, and the leader of Egypt's ruling party said he has asked Mubarak to go. But officials also are discussing the question of succession. It would take a change in the constitution, for example, for Vice President Omar Suleiman to immediately take over.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

And let's look again at what we know and do not know about the developing situation in Egypt today. We do not have direct word from Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak about his future. We do have indications that he may be preparing to step down.

CIA director Leon Panetta told Congress today that there's a strong likelihood that Mubarak will go tonight. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs says only the situation is fluid. Egyptian state TV has said in the last few minutes that President Mubarak will make an announcement, and top officials appeared on TV today, along with a statement about safeguarding the country.

We've been on the line this hour with our correspondent in Cairo, who's heard from the leader of Egypt's ruling party. That ruling party leader says he has asked President Mubarak to go. He did not know the president's answer. But Egyptian officials have also been discussing the question of succession. It would take a change in the constitution, for example, for Vice President Omar Suleiman to immediately take over.

Those are the key questions, here, really. It's been assumed for some time that Mubarak would go. The question is how and when and who takes over. There is tremendous anticipation today in Cairo's Tahrir Square, and NPR News will bring you more throughout the day, as we learn it.

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

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