People who have power don't give it up voluntarily or easily, a Quad-City college professor said Thursday in response to Egypt's Hosni Mubarak refusal to step down or leave the country.
"It's a shame," Mariano Magalhaes, associate professor of political science at Augustana College in Rock Island, said of the announcement that Mubarak has handed his powers to his vice president but will retain the title of president.
"It's a token concession. It's not really a concession to the democratic process in Egypt," Magalhaes said.
Magalhaes' concerns were shared by Everett Hamner, assistant professor of English at Western Illinois University's Quad-Cities campus in Moline.
"I'm worried it's going to get ugly and more violent than it has been," Hamner said.
Both he and Magalhaes said they were glued to TV screens and images Thursday that showed a crowd in Tahrir Square swelling to several hundred thousand, anticipating that Mubarak would announce that he was resigning as Egypt's long-running president. That's not the announcement the world heard in his nighttime address.
"It's going to be very hard for him to hold on to power," Hamner said. "It seems like the people there have gotten to the point where they aren't going to take ‘no' for an answer."
The Associated Press reported that the majority of the crowd remained in the square after the announcement. Mubarak's announcement came after 17 days of anti-government protest.
The announcement didn't surprise Magalhaes, saying dictators like Mubarak are reluctant to surrender power. "They like it. They're going to want to keep their hands on it," he said.
At Augustana, Magalhaes teaches about conflicts between military governments and their civilians. He had speculated that the Egyptian military, which hours before the announcement had stepped in to secure the country, would take over power.
"If a military regime says, ‘OK, we got this covered, don't worry about it,' without including voices from the civil society, that's a problem," Magalhaes said.
Shane Sanders, assistant professor of economics at Western Illinois' Moline campus, said many are interested in Mubarak's future in regards to shifts in Egyptian-Israeli relations.
"If the Egyptian military replaces Mubarak for an extended period, then the value of the 1979 peace treaty between the two countries will likely plummet," Sanders said.
Hamner said when Mubarak eventually does leave office, what happens next could reflect the uprising in Iran in 1979 that resulted in fundamentalism or the end of the Soviet Union in 1989 that left more positive lasting impacts.
"I'm cautiously hopeful that the Egyptian revolution will prove much more like the latter than the former, and that its influence will be very positive across the Arab world, not just in Egypt," he said.
For the Egyptian government to succeed as a democracy, it has to first install "free, fair and competitive" elections, Magalhaes said. "From a western perspective, that's absolutely essential. From an Egyptian perspective, it's the essential first step."
That Mubarak still remains involved in the process damages his ability to create a "genuinely" democratic state, Magalhaes said.
"These are interesting times we live in," he added.