Although earlier reports from media around the world had assured Hosni Mubarak would finally step aside after 10,711 days (almost 30 years) as President of Egypt and 17 days of nationwide protest and chaos, he did not, not tonight anyway.
Minutes before Mubarak delivered his speech, Egypt’s Information Minister Anas el Fekky told Reuters “the president is definitely not going to step down”.
Addressing the nation, Mubarak said he is not stepping down immediately, although some of his powers are transferring to Omar Suleiman (he didn’t specify which).
He expressed sadness for the lives lost in the protests, and tried to reach out to the young protesters, saying he himself was a young patriotic man once.
He also was very firm that Egypt would not bow to foreign pressure.
I was a young man as well when I joined the military and pledged to the nation and sacrificed to the nation. I spent my life defending Egypt’s life and sovereignty. The best days of my life were when I raised the flag of Egypt over the Sinai and when I flew planes in Addis Ababa. There was no day when I was affected or gave in to foreign pressure.
I believe that the majority of Egyptians know who Hosni Mubarak is and it pains me what has been expressed by some people from my own country. I am aware of the dangers facing us and out of my belief that Egypt is going through a very significant phase in its history, this compels us all to put the interests of the nation first and put Egypt above any consideration. Hosni Mubarak.
Protesters in Tahrir Square waved shoes in dismay at Mubarak’s speech, according to reports from Reuters.
AFP reported that protesters in central Cairo’s Tahrir Square reacted with fury after Mubarak failed to announce his immediate resignation, with many demanding the army join them in revolt.
Thousands of the protesters have been occupying the square since January 28th, demanding democratic reform and an end to the Mubarak regime. They have sent up a tented encampment, surrounding by a cordon of troops and tanks.
Mubarak’s reign of nearly 30 years is the longest Egypt has seen in nearly 150 years.
February 10th, 2011.
Sources: Reuters, AFP, AP and The Daily Telegraph.