President Hosni Mubarak announced late on Tuesday that he will not run for another term in office. In a taped speech (as confirmed by MSNBC), Mubarak said that, while the protests were started by “honest youths and men” they have been taken over by those “who wanted to take advantage” and that the protests were being “manipulated” “by political forces.” Egyptians must choose between “chaos and stability.” He ended on a “defiant note,”‘ speaking about himself in the third person:
“Hosni Mubarak who serves you today took pride in the long time I spent serving Egyptians…I will die on the soil of Egypt.
“He says he will be judged by history.”
Mubarak vowed to stay in power until the next election, as reported in the Guardian.
According to American diplomats in Cairo and Washington, President Barack Obama had earlier told Mubarak through a special envoy not to run again. Obama called for an “orderly transition” in Egypt and said that this “must begin now.” As today’s New York Times states:
It was not clear whether the administration favored Mr. Mubarak’s turning over the reins to a transitional government, composed of leaders of the opposition movement and perhaps under the leadership of Mohamed ElBaradei, or to a caretaker government led by members of the existing government, including the newly appointed vice president, Omar Suleiman.
The decision to nudge Mr. Mubarak in the direction of leaving is a critical step for the United States in defining its dealings not just with its most critical ally in the Arab world, but also with the rising swell of popular anger on the streets of Cairo and in countries like Jordan, Yemen, Algeria and Tunisia.
“People were bursting with hostility, many people held up their shoes in the air, which is, as you probably know, is one of the gravest insults you can show people in Arab culture, and as he announced that he would not be running in the September elections many of those shoes were hurled at the screen.”
In the coastal city of Alexandria, Egyptians made their feelings about their president very clear, saying ‘Mubarak, today is your last day.” The Guardian also reported that major opposition parties, including the Muslim Brotherhood, have rejected the offers made by Mubarak, according to Ivan Watson of CNN.
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