Mubarak won't step down; crowds angry

Feb. 10, 2011 at 5:37 PM
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CAIRO, Feb. 10 (UPI) -- Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said Thursday he will not step down before elections are conducted in the fall.

Speaking on national television, Mubarak said he would transfer some power to Vice President Omar Suleiman and would amend the constitution, but nothing, as translated, indicated he would relinquish power.

Shortly after anti-government protesters called for his immediate resignation, Mubarak said he would not seek re-election in September. Reports spreading among protesters and around the world indicated Mubarak would accede to the proposal.

"I will keep this promise until we take Egypt to the safe side," Mubarak said. "The priority now is to restore confidence among Egyptians themselves."

Mubarak's comments "affirms his national sense ... and his commitment to the pledges he made," Suleiman said after the president spoke.

He said "the door was still open" for more dialogue among all parties, saying he would do whatever it takes to have an orderly transition of power once elections are conducted.

Suleiman urged protesters to "go back to your houses ... go back to your work" and work together as "one team" to resolve the crisis.

As a throng of protesters in Tahrir Square -- considered Ground Zero for the protests -- realized Mubarak was not resigning, shouts of "Get out" could be heard as anger rose.

"I don't know what he is staying for," one demonstrator told CNN. "This guy is calling for more rage in the country."

CNN reported a portion of the crowd broke off to march to the presidential palace and Parliament.

Mubarak tried to blame the dissatisfaction with his 30-year regime on non-Egyptians, saying he would not "listen to any foreign intervention and dictations."

While saying he would not seek re-election, Mubarak said he was "committed" to protecting the constitution and the "interests of the people … so whoever the electorate chooses in a new fair and square elections is safeguarded by fairness."

Mubarak said his government has begun a national dialogue with young people and opposition leaders that "resulted in some kind of harmony … that will put our feet on the right track. That will follow along until September."

"We don't trust him," another protester told CNN. "He is not an honest person. He takes the wealth … and he takes our freedom."

The man said he expected demonstrations Friday that would be "a point of change."

Protest organizers called for a "protest of millions" for Friday after noon prayers, saying the protest would actually be several coordinated protests in Cairo, rather than one in Tahrir Square.

The regime will "prove our ability and capacity to respond to demands through dialogue," Mubarak said. "We will prove that we are not servants to anyone. … I am preserving (Egypt's) integrity."

Egyptian labor unrest in solidarity with protesters expanded Thursday as activists said a general strike could deliver a fatal blow to Mubarak's government.

Public transport workers in Cairo went on strike, demanding Mubarak's departure and threatening to halt bus service. Hundreds of state electrical power workers stood in front of a utility demanding the ouster of its director.

Sanitation workers demonstrated around their headquarters in Dokki on the Nile's western bank, directly across from downtown Cairo.

Industrial action and unrest from Aswan and Luxor in the south to Mahalla and Quesna in the north were reported Thursday, Abu Dhabi's English language daily The National reported.

Industrial production in the country has dropped 80 percent since the protests began Jan. 25, the newspaper said.

Approximately 6,000 workers at five service companies owned by the Suez Canal Authority continued to strike, the paper said.

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