Mubarak says will not seek next term

Updated: 2011-02-02 08:37


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Mubarak says will not seek next term

Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak addresses the nation on Egyptian State TV in this still image taken from video, February 1, 2011. Mubarak said on Tuesday he would not run for the presidency again and would work in the last months of his term to allow the transfer of power.[Photo/Agencies]

CAIRO - Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak pledged Tuesday that he would not run for the presidency again in his speech to the nation which fell into chaos after eight days of anti-government demonstrations demanding an end of the president's 30-year rule.

In his speech on Tuesday night, Mubarak said that he does not intend to run for another term after massive anti-government protests shook the country for the past eight days.

Mubarak said that he will work in the last months of his term to ensure a smooth transfer of power.

"My main responsibility is to ensure stability, and in the next few months I will work on the country's stability," he added.

The president announced that he would seek constitutional change, which controls the criteria of the candidacy of the next president.

"I am a military man who served this country during war and peace and I will die on the soil of Egypt," Mubarak said.

Egyptian dissident and former International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohammed ElBaradei said Tuesday via Al Arabia channel that Mubarak's speech did not meet people's demand, and he urged the immediate resignation of Mubarak.

Hundreds of thousands of protesters flooded downtown Cairo since Tuesday morning for a "march of one million," while other groups of smaller scales were calling for resumption of social order under leadership of the embattled president.

Demonstrators shouting slogans "Oust Mubarak" gathered in Tahrir Square, the center of protests, as the opposition parties called for a general strike and a one-million-people march to the presidential palace after a week of unrest in the country, as the army stood still to protect the people.

But Xinhua reporters said protesters remained in the Tahrir Square, while the presidential palace area was tightly protected by the army and remained calm.

Mubarak reshuffled his government on Monday in an attempt to defuse the week-long protest against his regime, but protesters rejected the changes and said he must surrender power.

Despite opposition parties' called for an indefinite strike and a one-million-people march to the presidential palace, some Egyptian intellectuals distributed leaflets among protestors, urging people to stay away from "violence" and "chaos."

"The continuation of chaos will only deepen people's suffering and provide chances for looting and other crimes," one of the leaflets read. "This is our Egypt. We must safeguard the country and people."

While a sea of protestors were carpeting the Tahrir Square, about 1,000 people gathered near the foreign ministry to support Mubarak, saying he is the only man who is capable of keeping the society stable amid the turmoil.

Supporters shouted "Yes, Mubarak," played music and raised a police officer when marching along the Nile.

"The opposition parties do not want our life back to normal unless Mubarak leaves, but what will happen after that? Obviously chaos," said a tourist guide who gave his name Muhamed. "I have to arm with knifes at night, for the first time in my life, to protect my family and neighbors. Definitely we need reforms, but we do not want changes that deprive us of peaceful life."

For the past few days, Egyptians have not agreed on Mubarak's future fate. Hundreds of thousands are protesting, but many others believe Mubarak shouldn't depart unless he restores the country's stability.

"Those people are just giving the opportunity to people like ElBaradei to make use of us. Mubarak should leave after his period is over," said a 23-year-old protester.

Conflicts among people of different interests occurred at some check points. "We want to go to work. Can't you people understand? " shouted a man to anti-government crowds.

Unlike last Friday's protests, there has been little police presence in streets Tuesday, giving protesters a wider freedom to express their opinions without tear gas or water canons. To prevent disturbance of social order, local groups took over the streets, checking luggage and people's IDs.


Egypt endured another day of halt to normal life as the protest entered the second week. Trains stopped running Monday. The internet remained shutdown on its fifth day. Banks, stock markets and most businesses were closed.

Storage racks for bread, milk, edible oil and local fruits were almost empty in Cairo's supermarkets as people tried to replenish their stores for fear that the chaos could continue and prices could rise.

Tourism, a crucial source of Egypt's revenue, was hit hard by the protest. Many tour agencies have suspended services and the EgyptAir has cancelled flights during the government-imposed curfew which has been extended from 3 p.m. (1300 GMT) to 8 a.m. ( 0600 GMT).

Some foreign firms suspended their activities due to paralyzed internet and lack of workers in the unrest.

"I have closed the factory. I don't know when the social order can be back to normal," said Zhou Jianguo, a Chinese owner of a motorbike manufacturing factory in Cairo's Nasr City. "It is so shocking that a peaceful country can suddenly fall to chaos. I'm really worried about the investment environment of Egypt."

Responding to fears of economic difficulties, newly-appointed Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq said Tuesday the new government is committed to meeting all people's demands despite existing conflict of interests.

Banks will be open once security and stability are restored in the country, he said, adding that measures have been taken to protect banks against looting.


Despite the appointment of Egypt's first-ever vice president in 30 years and the government's offer for talks with all political forces, opposition parties said there would be no dialogue unless Mubarak resigns.

ElBaradei said Tuesday he hoped Mubarak could leave by Friday.

"I hope President Mubarak goes before this and leaves the country after 30 years of rule... I don't think he wants to see more blood," ElBaradei said.

He joined forces with the largest opposition group Muslim Brotherhood and other major political parties.

"We have already formed a coalition made up of 10 people including Mohamed ElBaradei for dialogue with the regime but only after Mubarak steps down," said Mohamed El Beltagy, a senior member of the Brotherhood.

Opposition members also called for constitutional amendments and dissolution of parliament as election results are described as "incorrect."

Experts said people would not retreat after the new cabinet was established.

"People are asking for ousting the whole regime and forming united coalition for peaceful transition," said Dr. Raffatt Sayd, head of Tagammu Party.


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