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.