The mood among protesters is a mix of fury, disappointment, determination to go on.
Protesters enraged by Hosni Mubarak's latest refusal to step down streamed into Cairo's central square on Friday and took positions outside key symbols of the hated regime, promising to expand their push to drive the Egyptian president out.
The standoff posed a major test for the military as protesters stepped up calls for the army to intervene against Mr. Mubarak, a former air force commander and one of its own. The military's Supreme Council held an "important" meeting on Friday morning, which was chaired by Defence Minister Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, the State news agency reported.
"The council will issue important statement to the people after the meeting," MENA said.
Mr. Mubarak gave most of his powers to his Vice President but refused to resign or leave the country on late Thursday, hours after the military made moves that had all the markings of a coup.
"We are waiting for a strong reaction from the army to Mr. Mubarak's speech," said Mohammed Mustapha, a protest spokesman. He said "huge numbers" of protesters were expected om Friday.
Organizers said protesters were already camped outside the presidential palace and buildings housing the Cabinet, parliament and state TV. They planned rallies at six separate protest locations, in addition to Tahrir Square, the center of the mass rallies that began on Jan. 25.
"We are going to camp everywhere to put more pressure on the regime," said Abdel-Rahman Samir, an organizer.
Call for military intervention
Prominent reform advocate Mohamed ElBaradei, whose supporters were among the organizers of the 18-day-old wave of protests, warned in a Twitter message that "Egypt will explode."
"The army must save the country now,? the Nobel Peace laureate said. "I call on the Egyptian army to immediately interfere to rescue Egypt. The credibility of the army is on the line."
Another leading figure of the protest movement, Google executive Wael Ghonim, called for caution.
"The situation is complicated. I don?t want to the blood of the martyrs to be wasted and at the same time I don't want to shed blood," he said in comments posted on Facebook. "We have really achieved significant political accomplishments in a short time but the youth's demand of the ouster (of Mr. Mubarak) has not been accomplished."