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Middle East
Mubarak says he 'wants to go'
Egyptian president tells ABC News he is "fed up" but fearful about the consequences were he to resign immediately.
Last Modified: 03 Feb 2011 21:27 GMT

A bloody confrontation has gripped central Cairo, pitting Mubarak loyalists against pro-democracy supporters [EPA]

Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, has said in an interview to America's ABC News that he is "fed up" and wants "to go" after 62 years in public service.

However, he fears the consequences if he were to quit immediately, saying his resignation would bring chaos to Egypt.

Protesters demanding an end to Mubarak's 30-year rule continue to clash with his supporters on the streets of Cairo. The uprising has been blamed on poverty, corruption and recession.

"I am fed up. After 62 years in public service, I have had enough. I want to go," Mubarak said during Thursday's interview with ABC's Christiane Amanpour.

Mubarak, 82, who remains inside his heavily guarded presidential palace in  Cairo, also said he was troubled by the violence that erupted during the protests and that his government was not responsible for it.

His government has struggled to regain control of an angry nation, inviting opponents to talks and apologising for Thursday's bloodshed in Cairo that left at least 13 people dead.

Bloody confrontation

A bitter and bloody confrontation gripped central Cairo's Tahrir, or Liberation, Square where armed government loyalists fought pro-democracy demonstrators intent on forcing Mubarak to step down.

There have been suggestions that some people were paid by the government to attack the pro-democracy supporters with stones and rocks.

Mubarak blamed the opposition Muslim Brotherhood for the Tahrir Square violence.

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"I was very unhappy about yesterday. I do not want to see Egyptians fighting each other," he was quoted as saying in an early snippet of the interview with ABC's correspondent.

In her account of the interview, Amanpour said: "He told me that he is troubled by the violence we have seen in Tahrir Square over the last few days but that his government is not responsible for it.

"Instead, he blamed the Muslim Brotherhood, a banned political party here in Egypt."

In a move to try to ease the tension, Omar Suleiman, Egypt's vice president, said on Thursday the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's most organised opposition group, had been invited to meet the
new government as part of a national dialogue with all parties.

An offer to talk to the banned but tolerated group would have been unthinkable before protests erupted on January 25, indicating the giant strides made by the pro-democracy movement.

But scenting victory, they have refused negotiations until Mubarak goes.

Apology for violence

The overture came after Ahmed Shafiq, Egypt's new prime minister, apologised for the violence and the breakdown in law and order.

Shafiq said he did not know who was responsible for the bloodshed, blamed by protesters on undercover police.

"As officials and a state which must protect its sons, I thought it was necessary for me to apologise and to say that this matter will not be repeated," Shafiq said.

Meanwhile, protesters prepared once again to defy a curfew and sleep at Tahrir Square in preparation for big demonstrations called for Friday .

Navi Pillay, the United Nations human rights chief, has said up to 300 people may have died in the Egyptian uprising so far.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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