As protesters were swarming into the streets Friday morning for what was expected to be the biggest and most volatile demonstrations in the three-week revolt here, the Supreme Council of the Egyptian Armed Forces issued a statement over state television and radio indicating that the military, not Mr. Mubarak, was in effective control of the country. It was unclear whether the military would take meaningful steps toward democracy or begin a military dictatorship.

Western diplomats said that officials of the Egyptian government were scrambling to assure that a muddled speech Mr. Mubarak made on Thursday night that enraged protesters had in fact signaled his irrevocable handover of presidential authority…

The statement Friday by the military’s Supreme Council struck a very different tone and appeared to assert that the military, not President Mubarak, was now in control. The military said that first it would end the 30-year-old emergency law — used to detain without trial— “as soon as the current circumstances are over.” The protesters have demanded that the law be eliminated immediately, before any talks about ending the uprising.