CAIRO â€” Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, unable to calm a week of unrest and unprecedented protest against his government, announced Tuesday night that he would not seek re-election, but indicated he would remain in power â€œfor the next few months.â€
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, unable to calm a week of unrest and unprecedented protest against his government, announced Tuesday night that he would not seek re-election, but indicated he would remain in power â€œfor the next few months.â€
â€œI tell you in all sincerity that I did not intend to seek re-election,â€ Mubarak said in a national address on state television. â€œBut I am keen to end my presidency in a manner that will enable whoever succeeds me to take over the country in a stable climate.â€
Mubarak was not clear whether he would stay in power until the September presidential election.
He blamed unnamed â€œpolitical forces with private agendasâ€ for exploiting what he deemed â€œlegitimate demandsâ€ of the people for democratic reforms. He said the forces bent on creating chaos â€œthrew oil on the fire.â€
The presidentâ€™s statement, coming hours after more than 200,000 protesters streamed into Cairoâ€™s Tahrir Square, was the latest dramatic development as he maneuvered to stay in power amid demonstrations, international pressure to resign and an economy that has slid into turmoil. The decision may ease a bit of the public fury against him, but it was unlikely to stop calls for him to immediately step aside.
Earlier in the day, a special U.S. envoy and former ambassador to Egypt, Frank G. Wisner, met with Mubarak to deliver a message from Washington that he needed to resign and make way for a new government to take shape without him, according to Middle East experts who discussed the matter with the Obama administration. The sources said Wisner was rebuffed by Mubarak.
During a day billed by protesters as a million-strong march on Cairo, Army tanks and soldiers took positions across the city, but as on other days, there was little tension between the military and the protesters. Demonstrators at checkpoints helped troops examine identification cards of those flowing into the square.