Hosni Mubarak Could Step Down Tonight

Various reports are swirling around about Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak planning to step down from power in the very near future. NBC News' Richard Engel hears from two independent Egyptian government officials that Mubarak would leave tonight, under an agreement with Army leaders.

From the NBC News report:

CAIRO - Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak is to step down, two sources told NBC News on Thursday.

Following an all-day meeting of the country's supreme military council, the army said all the protesters' demands would be met and a further statement was expected to be made later Thursday, clarifying the situation.

Mubarak was also due to address the nation.

Other reports aren't as cut and dry, though. A ruling party leader only tells the BBC that he "hopes" Mubarak steps down when he "most probably" speaks to to the people tonight.

CIA Director Leon Panetta, meanwhile, told a congressional panel earlier this morning that there's a "strong likelihood" Mubarak will leave tonight.

Update, 2:00 ET: The protesters in Cairo and everyone else watching around the world are still waiting for President Mubarak to speak. It's now 9:00 in Egypt. Reports about Mubarak's plans for stepping down are still conflicting, with the Egyptian information minister even dismissing "everything you heard in the media" as "rumor."

That would be a disaster, if Mubarak simply came out and said he wasn't going anywhere. But even if he stepped down and transferred temporary power to his deputy, Omar Suleiman, under military supervision, protesters still might not be satisfied — the "coup" would just result in a new face for the same regime, under an enhanced military state.

[Image via AP]