Mubarak Gives Speech; Crowd, Unswayed, Responds: 'Leave, Mubarak, Leave'

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Al-Jazeera-English

Mubarak Gives Speech; Crowd, Unswayed, Responds: 'Leave, Mubarak, Leave'

Egypt's president says in a speech that he will step down at the next election but would stay in office until then.

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Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, has said that he would not run for re-election - but refused to step down from office, the central demand of millions of protesters who have demonstrated across Egypt over the last week.

"I never intended to run for reelection," Mubarak said in his televised address, which aired at 11pm local time on Tuesday.

"I will use the remaining months of my term in office to fill the peoples' demands," he said.

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 fulfill 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 seemed largely unfazed by the protests, saying that "the young people" have the right to peaceful demonstrations, but quickly adding that protesters had been "taken advantage of" by people trying to "undermine the government."

His announcement follows a week of protests, in which millions of people have taken to the streets all over Egypt to demand his resignation. However, his speech did not carry much weight with protesters: they resumed their "leave, Mubarak" chant shortly after his speech, and added a few new slogans, like "we won't leave tomorrow, we won't leave Thursday..."

Until now, officials had indicated Mubarak, 82, would likely run for a sixth six-year term of office.


 

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