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The long goodbye

February 11, 2011

Protesters have said they're planning the most spectacular demonstrations yet after President Hosni Mubarak again refused to resign in a televised speech. There had been widespread expectations that he would resign.

Protesters in Cairo
Mubarak's speech has disappointed the protestersImage: dapd

Furious over Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's continued refusal to step down, protesters in Cairo said they were planning massive protests and have declared Friday a "day of rage."

On Thursday, the atmosphere at rallies around the country briefly turned festive with the expectation that Mubarak would use a televised address to step down.

Instead the president said he planned to protect the constitution and oversee its amendment, adding that he would not bow to outside pressure to stand down. He also announced he would hand over powers to his Vice President Omar Suleiman "based on the constitution."

Patriotic appeal

Hosni Mubarak speaking on television
Mubarak did not use his speech to step down as many expectedImage: picture alliance/dpa

Mubarak said he would not accept "foreign diktats," appealing to the patriotism of fellow Egyptians in resolving the situation.

"The situation is not about Hosni Mubarak, but the reality is about Egypt. All Egyptians are in the same trench and therefore we should continue the national dialogue."

"Any political system can commit mistakes," said Mubarak. "What is most important is to acknowledge those mistakes and put them right."

'Go back to work'

Following Mubarak's address, Vice President Suleiman urged protesters and strikers to head home or go back to work.

"This is a critical time which requires all of us to unite," Suleiman said.

The bulk of the crowd in Tahrir Square dispersed on Thursday night, but some several thousand protesters remained in their tent encampment. Most vowed to return on Friday for a further day of strikes and protests.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle
'Worries of the international community are bigger': WesterwelleImage: AP

International reaction

Responding to Mubarak's national address, Germany's Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said the speech "was not the step forward that was hoped for.

"The worries of the international community are rather bigger after this speech than before," he added.

US President Barack Obama issued a strongly-worded statement, saying it was not clear the suggested transfer of power "is immediate, meaningful or sufficient."

"The Egyptian government must put forward a credible, concrete and unequivocal path towards genuine democracy," Obama said.

Chief European Union diplomat Catherine Ashton said "the time for change is now." She added that Mubarak "has not yet opened the way for faster and deeper reforms."

Author: Richard Connor, Catherine Bolsover (AF, AP, dpa, Reuters)
Editor: Martin Kuebler