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Middle East
Mubarak stays, Egypt erupts in rage
Egyptian leader disappointed and enraged pro-democracy protesters when he did not announce he would quit as they hoped.
Last Modified: 10 Feb 2011 23:09 GMT
Protesters in Cairo wave shoes in dismay as they learn that Mubarak would not be announcing his resignation [Reuters]

Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, provoked rage on the country's streets when, in an anticlimactic speech, he said he would hand some powers to his deputy, but disappointed protesters who had been expecting him to announce his resignation altogether after more than two weeks of unrest.

"Leave! Leave!" chanted thousands who had gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Thursday in anticipation that a televised speech would be the moment their demands for an end to Mubarak's 30 years of authoritarian, one-man rule were met.

Instead, the 82-year-old former general portrayed himself as a patriot overseeing an orderly transition until elections in September, when his current term ends.

The hush that had swept over the crowd in Tahrir Square at the start of Mubarak's speech turned into an angry roar halfway through Mubarak's speech, as it became clear that the defiant president would not be stepping down.

Al Jazeera's Aymen Mohyeldin, reporting from Cairo, said that the speech was received as "patronising" as he referred to Egyptians as his children, and he only re-enforced the idea that he is "entrenched in the notion that he will hold on to power".

Mubarak  praised the young people who have stunned the Arab world with unprecedented demonstrations, offering constitutional change and a bigger role for vice-president Omar Suleiman.

Rabab Al Mahdi, a professor at the American University in Cairo, told Al Jazeera that the  "level of anger and frustration at the square is unprecedented".

"This is putting us into a messy situation that can turn bloody at any moment," she said, adding that the fact that Mubarak "started a speech for more than 10 minutes, he was talking about himself - very narcissistic, again, giving the message that he's still in control, and this, in and by itself, offended people." 

Feeling the pain


"I have felt all the pain you felt," said Mubarak, who last week had already pledged not to run again in September.

"I will not go back on my response to your voice and your call."

Egypt's revolt seek the ouster of Mubarak

Al Jazeera's Rawya Rageh, reporting from Cairo said that halfway through Mubarak's speech, when the president spoke of his years in public service, people began taking off their shoes and waving them in the air in a dramatic Arab show of contempt.

"You could also see tears in some of the people's eyes ... a lot of screams of anger, people just breaking down in tears, people just breaking down in pain," said Rageh.

She said that some people began to immediately mobilise for fresh protests on Friday in response to the speech.

Egyptian state television was not broadcasting the scenes of anger after Mubarak's speech.

The people's anger was not restricted to Cairo. In Alexandria, Egypt's second largest city, crowds began roaring and shouting, heading toward the military base of the northern command to protest.

Al Jazeera's Jamal Elshayyal, reporting from Alexandria said that the pro-democracy protesters were "more offended than ever" at hearing that Mubarak intended to remain in power until September.

"They really do not understand how president Mubarak cannot comprehend the strong sentiments which they have been expressing over the past two weeks," said Elshayyal.

The anger on the streets of Cairo and Alexandria, hours ahead of a planned "Day of Martyrs" protest on Friday to commemorate the 300 or more killed by security forces since January 25 appeared ominous in an environment where the army has been on the streets for two weeks, and on Thursday said it was in charge.

"He [Mubarak] doesn't seem to understand the magnitude of what is happening in Egypt. At this point I don't think it will suffice," said Alanoud al-Sharek at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. "He has performed quite a sleight of hand.

He has transferred authority to Omar Suleiman while somehow retaining his position as ruler."

Suleiman, a 74-year-old former intelligence chief, is not widely popular with protesters who are seeking a complete break with the military-dominated system which has governed Egypt for the past six decades.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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