The noose is beginning to tighten around deposed Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak. Today, tens of thousands of protesters returned to Cairo’s Tahrir Square for the so-called “Day of Purification and Accountability.” Their core demand was unmistakable: Prosecute Mubarak. Said one man interviewed in this video, “We have only request: the start of the trial of Mubarak, his family, his businessmen and his politicians.” According to a spokesman for the January 25 Coalition, a leading pro-democracy group, demonstrators are prepared to march to Sharm el-Sheikh, where Mubarak now resides (we think) to demand his prosecution. When I first wrote about the issue on February 12, one day after Mubarak’s resignation, I concluded that whether Mubarak would face justice would come down to where accountability ranked among Egyptians’ priorities as they set about building a new society. The answer, it would appear now, is quite high. The ruling military has so far shown itself reluctant to move against its former patron, grudgingly imposing a travel ban on Mubarak and his family, and requesting a freeze on their assets. With its popularity plummeting amid popular disenchantment on a whole range of issues, it looks increasingly conceivable the leadership might feel compelled to cut its one-time sugar daddy loose.
Stay tuned for more news on this front. Libya might be the dominant story out of the Middle East for now, but how Egypt fares in its transition to democracy will likely have the most enduring ramifications for the region.