Vice President Omar Suleiman just gave an extended interview with Egyptian state T.V. Here are the highlights of what he said (my imperfect transcript):
I would like to tell the people that we are passing through a defining moment. January 25th was a day of the rise and movement of the youth. They have demands which are legitimate and acceptable. These demands were examined and we met with some of the youth who had raised the demands. They were put to examination to respond to them. However I regret to say some other operatives infiltrated among the youth, who carried their own agenda. It might be related to outside forces or other domestic affairs. The objective behind this was to create the maximum degree of instability, intimidation, and rift among the people of Egypt….The impact that resulted from the infiltration of these suspicious operatives was huge and deep. It had an impact on the ability of the police to confront the saboteurs.
Now the armed forces are discharging their duties, hand in hand with the people, to prevent quarrels. When President Mubarak found out that the demands voiced by the Jan 25th youth were lawful and acceptable, he discussed how the needs can be met. Mubarak laid down a plan in order to have them realized. It was announced in his last address and it was clear that he has responded to all the lawful demands. We could have also accepted further demands, we could have also responded to further political reforms. However the time is past; the presidential elections will be carried out in August or September, it will not go beyond that time. And from now till that moment we have less than 200 days, during which certain amendments will be carried out, amendments which take a great deal of time…Constitutional amendments require 70 days to be passed.
When I was instructed by the president to engage in a political dialog, I requested, and some responded. I believe they requested for some time to deliberate and they will respond shortly. What’s more important is that I am meeting with representatives of the youth who sparked this movement in Egypt. The final thing is that we lay down a work plan. It starts with dialog and we should reach a conclusion in order to assign committees to address each issue, and then find out the outcomes of the recommendations and decisions in order to be put into implementation. What is more important in this entire process is to abide by the time limit in order to carry out these amendments.
Yes, the Muslim Brotherhood were contacted and invited. But they are still hesitant about attending the dialog. It would be in their interest to attend. …
Perpetrators of violence will be roundly penalized.
We should realize and we will identify who mobilized them [the pro-Mubarak protesters] there and why they were engaged with fighting and why clashes were not put to an end quickly. We will find out who pushed them toward Tahrir square so far…
There are certain groups carrying their own agendas in protest. We will soon find out the parameters of these conspiracies.
The armed forces were deployed to safeguard and protect all the people. It is the armed forces that are protecting the homeland. Currently the armed forces are carrying out a new role, which is to implement the curfew, protect civilians against thugs and outlaws.
And the stirring conclusion:
My message to the youth is: thank you for what you did. You were the spark that ignited reform. The state has responded to all the demands that were raised. We request you not to succumb to the rumors and satellite TV images arousing you against your country. Your relatives everywhere are suffering material deprivation. Give the state an opportunity to reform. Leave, disperse, and end the demonstrations; your demands are answered.