After a day of rumors fed by major news networks citing officials from the US and Cairo claiming Hosni Mubarak would resign, Egypt’s president addressed the nation and reiterated his intent to hold the post until September.
“Your demands are lawful and legitimate,” he said to protesters in Tahrir Square, as chants of “GET OUT! GET OUT!” echoed through the city. “Mistakes are likely in any political regime and any state. However it is important to admit mistakes …”
“As the president of the state, I cannot find any embarrassment at all in listening to the youth of my state and responding to them,” Mubarak continued. “I cannot and will not accept to be dictated orders from the outside no matter what the source is.”
Mubarak had been urged by US President Barack Obama to begin a “transition” from power “now,” and protesters had been demanding for the last three weeks that he leave office immediately.
“I am totally determined and adamant to fulfill all the promises,” he said. “I’m keen on implementing all these promises on all these things with no going back.”
“I announced in very plain, unequivocal words that I will not run in the coming presidential elections,” Mubarak continued. “Satisfied to what I have offered to the nations for 60 years in times of war and peace … I will similarly remain adamant in safeguarding my position… This is the oath I’ve taken before God and the nation.”
He also hinted at what may be a deal with the armed forces, which could pose difficulties, or even a threat, to protesters who continued to occupy Cairo. Another rumor that circulated Thursday cited a document, circulated on Facebook, which claimed the military had planned to clear out Tahrir Square later that night.
“I have laid down a vision, a clear one, to exit the current crisis,” Mubarak said. “Looking forward to the support of every person keen on the people’s interests … to ensure the proper implementation which will be safeguarded by the armed forces. This dialog has yielded a preliminary agreement in stances and views, therefore we can lay our foot on the right path to exit the crisis.”
“This will go day by day and the path of peaceful transition of power from today until September,” he said.
Mubarak also proposed six constitutional amendments, one of which would remove Egypt’s permanent state of emergency that’s been in place for decades.
“Egypt will live on,” he signed off. “Egypt will remain, until I hand over the trust and the banner. It is the means and the end. The meaning of my life and the end of it… You will remain honest, proud people… May God save Egypt, a peaceful country, and may God safeguard a peaceful path.”
His speech was not well received, with the millions-strong crowd in Cairo going from jubilant to furious within minutes. Commenters on Al Jazeera English predicted more than 2 million would take to the streets on Friday after morning prayers.
Image: Wikimedia Commons.
This video is from CNN, broadcast Feb. 10, 2011.