(5 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)
This is day eight of the protest in Egypt demanding that President Hosni Mubarak step down.
After a day of protest that drew more than a million peaceful demonstrators to Tahrir Square in Cairo and around other cities in Egypt, there are still tens of thousands of protesters in the streets, many having vowed to remain until Pres. Hosni Mubarak leaves office. News agencies are reporting that Mubarak will make a televised address possibly announcing that he will not run for office in September. Whether that will satisfy the protesters and the opposition parties is in doubt. President Obama is also urging Mubarak not to run:
The message was conveyed to Mr. Mubarak by Frank G. Wisner, a seasoned former diplomat with deep ties to Egypt, these officials said. Mr. Wisner’s message, they said, was not a blunt demand for Mr. Mubarak to step aside now, but firm counsel that he should make way for a reform process that would culminate in free and fair elections in September to elect a new Egyptian leader.
This back channel message, authorized directly by Mr. Obama, would appear to tip the administration beyond the delicate balancing act it has performed in the last week – resisting calls for Mr. Mubarak to step down, even as it has called for an “orderly transition” to a more politically open Egypt.
In a late night appearance on state television, President Hosni Mubarak has said he would not run for reelection in September and would oversee an orderly transition. In his refusal to step down, Mubarak said:
“I never intended to run for re-election,” Mubarak said in his address. “I will use the remaining months of my term in office to fill the peoples’ demands.”
That would leave Mubarak in charge of overseeing a transitional government until the next presidential election, currently scheduled for September. He promised reforms to the constitution, particularly article 76, which makes it virtually impossible for independent candidates to run for office. And he said his government would focus on improving the economy and providing jobs.
“My new government will be responsive to the needs of young people,” he said. “It will fulfil those legitimate demands and help the return of stability and security.”
Mubarak also made a point of saying that he would “die in this land” – a message to protesters that he did not plan to flee into exile like recently deposed Tunisian president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
Mubarak also said the protests were “manipulated and controlled by political forces” and the people must chose between “chaos and stability”.
This did not satisfy many of the protesters in the streets who could be heard yelling “Erhal! Erhal!”, or “Leave! Leave!”. Many left the square where earlier over one million people had gathered. Calls to march on the presidential palace and new of “we wont leave until Mubarak is gone” were echoed through the square.
Al Jazeera correspondent in the midst of Tahrir Square in Cairo, says that protesters are “furious after Mubarak’s ‘audacious’ speech.” He adds that the protesters are insisting that the army remove Mubarak from power.
There have also been reports of shots being fired over the heads of crowds in the port city of Alexandria where there have been clashes between anti-government and pro-Mubarak protesters.
President Obama in a live address said the he spoke with Mubarak after he spoke and told him that only Egyptian people can determine their leaders, need orderly transition that’s meaningful, peaceful and must begin now.
In Jordan, King Abdullah II has dismissed his cabinet amid continued protests there.
The Jordanian news agency Petra announced that after recent protests in Jordan itself, the king had dismissed Prime Minister Samir Rifai and replaced him with Marouf al-Bakhit, a former general and ambassador to Israel and Turkey. He is widely viewed as clean of corruption.
The official announcement said Mr. Bakhit would have the task of “taking practical, swift and tangible steps to launch a real political reform process, in line with the king’s version of comprehensive reform, modernization and development.” It added that the king asked Mr. Bakhit and the new cabinet to “bolster democracy” and proceed “with nation building that opens the scope for broad accomplishment to all dear sons of our country and secure them the safe and dignified life they deserve.”
Here are the lastest reports from various news agencies that are live blogging the revolution:
* Protesters continue to occupy Tahrir Square in Cairo, with many apparently preparing to spend the night there. There were demonstrations across the country today, including in Suez, Alexandria, Ismailiya, Mansoura, Damietta, Mahalls, Tanta and Kafr El Sheikh as people responded to the call for one million people to take to the streets.
* President Mubarak is to announce that he will step down at the next election but will stay on, according to al-Arabiya TV. (6.40pm)
* Mohamed ElBaredei has said Mubarak “must leave to avoid bloodshed” and said preparations have already begun for the “post-Mubarak era” (12.03pm). He also attacked Britain’s response to the protests (7.48am).
* The US has been reaching out to Mubarak’s opponents. The US ambassador to Egypt, Margaret Scobey spoke with Mohamed ElBaradei (4.33pm)
* Jordan’s King Abdullah has responded to the gathering pace of pro-democracy protests in the Middle East by dismissing his government and appointing a new prime minister (12.45pm).
From Al Jazeera English:
* Activist in Tahrir Square tells Al Jazeera that people are arranging entertainment to keep them occupied during the protest – a football tournament will be starting soon.
* Reports come in that the Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak, will speak to the people soon.
* Al Jazeera English showing live pictures from Tahrir Square, with the anchor describing the cheers of crowds as “terrific sounds and terrific sights”.
* Al Jazeera correspondent in Tahrir Square says that people are erecting tent, bringing in blankets, food is being distributed, either for free or at discounted prices, music is being played – so people are expecting to be here for as long as it takes.
* Khalid Abo al Nagga, an Egyptian actor and pro-democracy activist, spoke to Ayman Mohyeldin in Tahrir Square.
I decided to be part of this years ago when young Egyptian in twitter said that they can’t live like this, they [Mubarak regime] are trying to hijack the country.
They cut the phone, and all form of communication so we don’t get images out, what kind of government is this? They can’t hijack 85 million voices, it is time for them to step down, this is what everyone want.
The regime needs to step down, they should go to court for all the killings. the whole regime needs to go to court for what they did to the peaceful demonstrators. From now on Egypt will never be the same.
* Reports that the tone of Egyptian TV is changing – said to sound more sympathetic to protests and has sent reporters to Tahrir Square. It is reporting “large peaceful protests, tidy protest and pro-Egypt protests”.
* A giant television screen has been set up in Tahrir Square and is screening Al Jazeera to the hundreds of thousands that are camped out there.