February 11, 2011

Egypt's Mubarak Refuses to Quit Presidency

Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak has said he will stay in office and shift all power only after September's presidential election.

Mr. Hosni Mubarak said he would assign some powers to Vice-President Omar Suleiman, but would ignore "diktats from abroad". Thousands of anti government protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square reacted angrily to his speech.

Mr. hosni Mubarak had already sworn not to stand in September's poll.

"I express a commitment to carry on and protect the constitution and the people and transfer power to whomever is elected next September in free and transparent elections," Mr Mubarak said.

Directly addressing protesters "in Tahrir Square and beyond" in what he said was "a speech from the heart", Mr Mubarak, 82, said: "I am not humiliated to listen to the youth of my country and to respond to them."

He apologized to the families of protesters killed in clashes with the security forces in recent weeks, and said those responsible for their deaths would be punished. He added that the country's emergency law would only be lifted when conditions were right.

Egypt's military had earlier said it was standing ready to "protect the nation". State news agency Mena reported that the high council of the armed forces was in continuous session "to protect the nation, its gains and the ambitions of the people".

Discussion between the government and opposition groups have made little progress, with protesters disillusioned at plans for reform put forward by Mr. Hosni Mubarak's Government. The US government had in recent days stepped up its call for the protesters' concerns to be addressed.

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