* Pro-Mubarak rallies in Cairo and Suez
* Crowd growing in Tahrir Square calling for him to quit
* Army urges protesters home, return to normal life
* Senior official says government feels it has momentum
By Alexander Dziadosz and Marwa Awad
CAIRO, Feb 2 (Reuters) - Protesters rallied in Cairo on
Wednesday to reject President Hosni Mubarak's timetable for
quitting but pro-Mubarak forces were also gathering, setting the
stage for a potentially volatile confrontation between the two.
The chant from Tahrir Square was pumped out from speakers:
"We will not go, he will go," after Mubarak said late on Tuesday
that he would not stand for a sixth term when a presidential
election is held in September.
At least 1,500 people were in the central square, which has
become a focal point for the protests and drew hundreds of
thousands on Tuesday. Many had camped in tents and under
blankets in defiance of a curfew.
Metres-long banners read: "The people demand the fall of the
An Egyptian opposition coalition called on Wednesday for
more protests and said it would only enter into a dialogue with
Vice President Omar Suleiman if Mubarak stepped down.
But some ordinary Egyptians, tired of the disruption,
appeared ready to accept Mubarak's concessions.
"We have waited on him for 30 years, can't we give him eight
more months?" asked Mohamed Ahmed, a lawyer, in downtown Cairo.
"The president has tackled most of the youth demands and he
had done a lot to the country and served it for so long. He is a
hero of war and peace he deserves to leave with dignity," said
another lawyer, Kamal Mohamed Mansour.
Many Egyptians have been shocked by the convulsions on their
normally quiet streets. Living hand to mouth, they have felt the
strain as protests disrupted services ranging from grocery
stores to cash machines.
Some shops remained closed on Wednesday.
TAKE-A-LOOK-Egypt's protests [nLDE70O2DA]
Protest timeline http://link.reuters.com/zyc77r
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TIME FOR NORMAL LIFE
Egypt's army said in a statement the demands of the people
had been heard and it was time for them to return to normal
"The army forces are calling on you ... You began by going
out to express your demands and you are the ones capable of
restoring normal life," a spokesman said.
The army has previously issued statements saying it would
not use violence against protesters.
A senior official indicated that the government felt it had
regained the momentum.
"I think it's over. We have demonstrations all over the
country to support Mubarak. The minute (Mubarak) finished his
speech we had 3,000 people under the (state broadcast) building.
I think the mood is turning," he told Reuters.
State television reported the curfew had been shortened to
run from 5 p.m. to 7 a.m., instead of 3 p.m. to 8 a.m.
Dozens of Egyptians gathered just outside the army perimeter
surrounding Tahrir on Wednesday, chanting "Our soul and blood we
sacrifice for you Mubarak" and "No to destruction, give a chance
to Mubarak". One sign read: "Yes, Yes, Mubarak".
In Suez, some 300 to 400 pro-Mubarak supporters carried
Egyptian flags and banners saying "Yes to Mubarak", "Mubarak,
you are in our hearts".
The organising committee which controls access to Tahrir
Square was taking precautions for fear that pro-Mubarak groups
might try to cause trouble there, organisers said.
At the checkpoint on the western side near Kasr el-Nil
bridge, members of the committee prevented about 10 pro-Mubarak
protesters from entering the square.
Similarly, on Talaat Harb Street to the northeast, the
organisers made a human chain across the road. One of them said
they had identified a group of state security people who had
tried to enter Tahrir Square.
State television coverage of the demonstrations has
flip-flopped from almost totally ignoring them in the first days
to extensive coverage since Friday's mass "Day of Wrath".
Immediately after Mubarak spoke late on Tuesday, state
television showed images of pro-Mubarak protesters in the
"The demonstrations I saw yesterday looked like they were
orchestrated," said Mayan Fawaz, a 30-year-old PR professional,
who saw nearly 2,000 pro-Mubarak demonstrations near the area of
Cairo where she lives on Wednesday.
"If these people were really pro-Mubarak where on earth have
they been the past week? People on the streets were saying these
demonstrators were hired by the NDP (ruling party)," she said.
(Reporting by Marwa Awad, Shaimaa Fayed, Yasmine Saleh,
Alexander Dziadosz, Jonathan Wright and Edmund Blair; Writing by
Alison Williams, Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)
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