With Mubarak Gone, Egyptian Army Moves to End Cairo Protests

Uncertainty mounts as military takes over, discontent spreads to other nations.

CAIRO Feb. 14, 2011— -- The Egyptian government warned protesters today to finally leave the streets of Cairo and hauled away truckloads of tents and blankets, but knots of defiant protesters remained in the square demanding even more political changes while labor unions demonstrated for pay raises.

The protests have dwindled since Mubarak left office on Friday, but some demonstrators still remain. As Mubarak's portrait was removed from state buildings, rumors spread that he had fallen ill and was in a coma.

Mubarak is reportedly at his residence in the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh on the Red Sea, 250 miles away from Cairo.

The Egyptian ambassador to the United States Sameh Shoukry indicated on NBC's "Today" show this morning that Mubarak was "possibly in somewhat of bad health," but did not provide details.

A little more than 48 hours after Egyptians toppled the government of Hosni Mubarak, the military has taken over the country's leadership and called for an end to the strikes. The military forced protesters and journalists off Tahrir, or Liberation, Square in Cairo, telling foreign reporters that only locals were allowed in the area.

A spokesman for the Armed Forces Supreme Council read a statement on television, its fifth so far, giving a not-so-gentle nudge to the people to get off the streets. He said the sit-ins and protests disrupt and stop the "wheels of production" and have negative repercussions on the national economy, protests create an environment suitable for irresponsible elements to perpetrate subversive operations, and the army hopes that all Egyptians will help create an adequate environment for the military to run the country's affairs until they are transferred to the legitimate civil authority.

Protesters were divided over whether to continue demonstrating. Some are calling for a return to normal life with others, more skeptical, say they won't leave until they see real change.

Most people want to see an immediate end to the controversial emergency law that has been in place almost continuously since 1967 and gives the government far-reaching powers at the expense of judicial review and civil liberties.

The military has promised swift presidential elections, but only a handful of viable opposition leaders have emerged and a concrete date has yet to be set. Among the contenders is Ayman Nour, a politician who was jailed when he challenged Mubarak in 2005 and became the first to announce his intention of running for the presidency.

Meanwhile, the spirit of Egypt's revolution -- which was preceded by a similar uprising in Tunisia -- continues to inspire others across the region.

In Algeria, the government mobilized 30,000 police as protesters swarmed the streets.

In Yemen, a new al Qaeda stronghold, police beat back thousands of protesters in a fourth straight day of demonstrations.

And in Libya, where Muamar Qaddafi has ruled for 41 years -- 10 years longer than Mubarak -- protesters called for a day of rage this week.

Jordan's Queen Rania, a world renowned figure, and her family, were under fire for alleged corruption.

In Iran, protesters took to the streets but were outnumbered by security forces.

Egypt itself is growing calmer and business is slowly returning to normal, though tourism has yet to return as international travelers remain jittery about the security situation in the region.

Tourism is the backbone of Egypt's economy, but the foreigners fled the country when the protests began in late January.

"Just to tell everyone that Egypt is safe and come back, we are ready to host a lot people, maybe millions and millions like we used to have. So we are ready. Please come to Egypt," said tour guide Shahindar Adel, one of many in the tourism industry that paraded outside the Pyramids today.

Holding signs like "Peace, freedom and love," and "Come to Egypt, you are safe here," the demonstrators pleaded for tourists to return.

Looting at Egypt's national museum was far worse than known, with more than a dozen priceless treasures stolen, including a small statue of a goddess holding King Tut.

Meanwhile, among Egypt's allies, there is anxiety over what the future entails for the entire region. Egypt is one of the United States' closest allies in the region and only one of two Arab countries that recognizes Israel.

Egypt's high military council is headed by Defense Minister Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, known to be relatively friendly to western governments. He was made deputy prime minister just two weeks ago in an effort to appease protesters.

Shoukry said the United States can count on the same kind of support from Egypt that it had before.

"Certainly," Shoukry said on ABC News' "This Week with Christiane Amanpour. "These issues are driven by mutual interest, by Egyptian interest and the interest remains a close association to the United States."

U.S. chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen is visiting the Middle East. Mullen met with Jordan's King Abdullah on Sunday and is in Israel today to attend an Israeli Defense Forces change of command ceremony and to meet with senior officials.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.