UPDATE II: Mubarak still fighting
Protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square rejected President Hosni Mubarak’s concession to not seek another term in office, as evidence mounted overnight that the embattled Egyptian leader was keeping up the fight against calls for his immediate resignation.
“Leave, leave,” protesters chanted in the wake of Mubarak’s speech Tuesday, in which he declared he would not run for another term as president in September’s election.
One protester told al-Jazeera he was disappointed with Mubarak’s speech as voices could be heard around him, shouting “not enough.”
“No one is satisfied,” a Muslim Brotherhood spokesman told the Wall Street Journal. “He and his system have already failed, and the people do not want him to continue with his colleagues. He has to leave.”
The Huffington Post reported that protest organizers have called for another “day of rage” on Friday, in a sign that Mubarak’s speech didn’t tamp down the unrest buffeting the country.
But Mubarak’s hopes to hang on to power appeared to be buttressed after his speech Tuesday night, with news sources reporting a new push by the military and state-run media to prop the president up.
Al-Jazeera’s blog and the Guardian reported that pro-Mubarak protesters appeared in the streets of Alexandria, leading to clashes between them and anti-Mubarak forces. Soldiers fired into the air, but there were no immediate reports of casualties.
Al-Jazeera also reported that Egyptian state television broadcast footage overnight of pro-Mubarak protests. “The protesters described the Egyptian president as a hero and accused those expressing anti-government views as irresponsible.”
Update: Mubarak has announced plans for a ‘peaceful transition of power’
Castigating “political interests” that sought to cause unrest in Egyptian society, President Hosni Mubarak announced Tuesday he would not seek reelection at the end of his term in Sept.
“I instructed the vice president to engage in dialog with all the political forces on all the issues raised for politicial and democratic reforms,” Mubarak said during a broadcast of Egyptian state television.
“I address you today, directly, to the people of the nation. Farmers, workers, Muslims and Christians. Elderly and youth. Each Egyptian man and woman in the countryside and cities across the nation. I never sold power and influence. People are aware of the harsh conditions I shouldered with responsibility.”
He said he was “totally committed to ending his career” with dignity and in an orderly manner.
“In the few months remaining in my current term,” Mubarak said he would “guarantee the transition of power.” He further called on parliament to amend the Constitution to add presidential term limits.
Mubarak’s term ends in September, but protesters have demanded he leave office right away.
“I call on the parliament to abide by the judgments handed down by the courts” regarding the recent parliamentary elections, he further said.
Mubarak also called on law enforcement and the military to protect the people’s “rights and dignity,” and insisted that “outlaws” who sought to “intimidate the people” be arrested.
“I delight to end my career in a manner that is honorable to God and the people.”
“takes pride in the long years he spent serving his people. This dear and loving homeland is my homeland as it is the motherland of all Egyptians. … I defended its soil and interests and I will die on its soil.”
Protesters who’ve occupied the public spaces of Egypt’s largest cities responded to the speech with anger, chanting for Mubarak to leave the country immediately.
An earlier report follows…
Embattled Egypt President Hosni Mubarak was expected to address the nation Tuesday night, according to published reports filed amid the largest protests the country had ever seen.
Over 2 million people took to the streets of Cairo Tuesday, with yet more in Suez and Alexandria, unified behind a call for the president’s resignation.
Arabic news agency Al Arabiya said Tuesday that the president would announce his intent to resign, but the report was unconfirmed and the channel did not provide a source.
The New York Times also noted, citing US diplomatic sources, that President Barack Obama had urged Mubarak to not seek reelection.
CNN followed-up, reporting that an unnamed, senior official in the Obama administration claimed that Mubarak will announce his plans to retire. It was unclear whether that meant he’d resign immediately or wait out the remainder of his term.
In previous days amid a growing and mostly peaceful revolt, Mubarak dissolved his cabinet and pledged greater democratic reforms. However, that did not prove to be enough for the protesters, and Tuesday’s “March of Millions” put even further pressure on his regime.
Mubarak, a key US and Israeli ally, has been in power for 31 years.
Former US President Jimmy Carter, who once brokered a peace accord between Egypt and Israel, suggested recently that the Egyptian people “have spoken,” meaning Mubarak “will have to leave.”
Carter’s sentiment was echoed Tuesday by US Senator John Kerry (D-MA) and former Massachusetts Republican Governor Mitt Romney, both of whom called for Mubarak’s resignation.
The Obama administration has remained remarkably reticent on the issue, affirming its support for democratic reforms but stopping far short of calling for the resignation of Mubarak, who has been a reliable US ally during his thirty-year reign.
While Vice President Joe Biden said last week that Mubarak was “not a dictator” and should not resign, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs has repeatedly dodged the question of whether Mubarak retains President Obama’s support.
For its part, Israel has expressed outrage over Obama’s hesitance to outwardly support Mubarak, suggesting US politicians are following popular opinion as opposed to their “genuine interests.”
It remains unclear who would lead Egypt if Mubarak’s regime were to fall, and how friendly the new president would be to the West.
The death toll in the unrest that sprung last Tuesday crossed 100 over the weekend, according to media reports.
This video is from CBS, broadcast Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2011.
With prior reporting by Sahil Kapur.