He’s been Egypt’s longest-running leader, but now, after days of protest, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak says he will step down in September after his current term and stand down in the next election. “The events of the past few days impose on us, both citizens and leadership, the choice between chaos and stability,” said Mubarak in a ten-minute televised speech. “I am now absolutely determined to finish my work for the nation in a way that ensures its safekeeping.” The country’s army, which has refrained from taking sides thus far, called on protesters to return home and “restore normal life.”
One sign of normalcy: Egypt’s Internet service is beginning to be restored.
“You are the ones able to restore normal life,” a military spokesman said on state TV. “Your message was received and we know your demands … We are with you and for you.”
Speaking after Mubarak’s announcement, President Obama stated that “orderly transition must be meaningful, it must be peaceful, and it must begin now.” But Obama stopped short of making a direct appeal for Mubarak to step down. “It is not the role of any other country to determine Egypt’s leaders,” he said. But it may be the role of the Egyptian people, who continued to protest well into Tuesday night.
After the Mubarak speech, violent clashes occurred between pro-Mubarak and anti-Mubarak camps in Cairo and Alexandria, with nearly a dozen injuries reported in Alexandria. Protesters are angry and want action sooner rather than later. And many are distrustful that Mubarak will follow through with his plan not to run in the next election — including Nobel Peace Prize winner and opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei. “He’s unfortunately going to extend the agony here for another six, seven months. He continues to polarize the country. He continues to get people even more angry and could [resort] to violence,” said ElBaradei.
Mubarak Stays, but Won’t Run Again [NYT]
Egypt Gets Its Internet Back [CNET]
Defiant Mubarak vows to finish term [Al Jazeera]