Cairo: A defiant Hosni
Mubarak Thursday announced that he would transfer some powers to
his deputy Omar Suleiman, but stopped short of resigning as
president of Egypt. He said he will not bow to foreign pressure.
In a televised address to the nation, Mubarak said he was
immediately initiating steps to allow a peaceful transfer of power
following elections in September.
"I have expressed with all clarity my intention not to stand in
forthcoming elections," he said.
"I will not accept to be dictated orders from the outside no
matter what the source is and no matter what the justifications
are," he said, responding to calls from world leaders for him to
Mubarak did not specify what powers he was handing over to
Suleiman and made no mention of lifting the state of emergency in
force for three decades.
Anti-government protesters in Cairo's central Tahrir Square
reacted furiously to the president's decision to remain in power.
Some brandished their shoes -- a serious insult in the Muslim
world -- while others shouted "Get out!" and "Down, down Hosni
A senior member of Egypt's banned main opposition group, the
Muslim Brotherhood, said Mubarak was ignoring the will of the
people and would remain firmly in control.
"The speech is frustrating and bypasses the will of the people,"
Helmy al-Gazzar told DPA.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said the president's
speech "was not the hoped-for step forward".
"I fear the speech will not have the desired affect of bringing
peace to Egypt ... The concern of the international community, and
that of the German government, has increased rather than
British Foreign Secretary William Hague, speaking to the BBC from
Bahrain, said it was not immediately clear what powers had been
handed over to Suleiman and what the implications were.
Before the televised speech, speculation was rife that Mubarak,
who has been president for 30 years, would relinquish power after
17 days of widespread street protests.
But at the start of his speech he made it immediately clear that
he would not step down and was "determined to execute what I have
He paid tribute to the young people calling for change, and for
the first time commented on the deaths of protesters in Tahrir
Square, expressing his sadness and promising that those
responsible for the killings would be punished.
"Our priority now is to regain confidence between citizens among
themselves and to regain confidence in the international arena and
to regain confidence about the reforms that we have pledged," he
"Egypt is going through some difficult times, and it is not right
to continue in this discourse because it has affected our economy
and we have lost day after day, and it is in danger - it is
putting Egypt through a situation where people who have called for
reform will be the first ones to be affected by it."
Suleiman, speaking on television after Mubarak, said he had been
entrusted by the president to "safeguard the stability of Egypt"
and "restore peace and security".
"I am committed to carrying out whatever is necessary to ensure
the peaceful transfer of power in accordance with the
constitution," he said.
There had been speculation that the army may take over, after the
Supreme Council of Egyptian Armed Forces announced it had convened
a "continuous session" to discuss measures to "safeguard" the
The protesters, however, said they would not accept military
leadership, with people in Tahrir Square chanting, "Civilian rule,
not military rule."
Earlier in the day, a senior army official had told the cheering
protesters, "All your demands will be met tonight."
Hossan Badrawi, the secretary general of the ruling National
Democratic Party, said that he would like Mubarak to "step aside"
and would be "surprised" if he were still in power Friday.
The 82-year-old president had previously rejected calls to quit,
instead promising not to seek re-election after his term ends in
September. His government had also shown willingness to implement
political reforms in the last few days.
But thousands of demonstrators stood their ground in Tahrir
Square, the focal point of the protests, while public and private
sector workers in various parts of the country continued to go on
The protesters were also called upon to join a second
"1-million-strong rally" Friday.
Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul-Gheit had warned in interviews with
Arab and US media that armed forces could be forced into action
"if chaos erupts".
"Such a step could lead to a very dangerous situation," he said in
an interview broadcast by Al Arabiya television Thursday.
Tanks have been stationed outside Mubarak's residence in the Cairo
suburb of Heliopolis during the protests.
Precise casualty figures have not been confirmed, but the UN said
last week that it had received unconfirmed reports of 300 dead in