ElBaradei to Cairo crowd: Egypt demands the dawning of a new era
Addressing protesters at a central Cairo square, Egyptian opposition leader says he 'bows down' before the people of Egypt, adding that 'change' was just days away.
Egyptians demand the end of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's regime and the beginning of a new era in Egyptian history, Al Jazeera quoted opposition figure Mohammed ElBaradei telling the crowds amassed in Tahrir square in Cairo on Sunday.
This was ElBaradei's first visit to the square, a main hub of the Egyptian protests, since returning to Egypt on Thursday.
Earlier Sunday, the Egyptian army blocked entry to Cairo's Tahrir Square, a focal point for demonstrators over the past six days of protests against Mubarak's regime. The move came, however, after some 20,000 people had already gathered there.
A row of advanced M1 tanks entered the central Cairo square Sunday afternoon with their cannons covered. It is unclear why such a large number of tanks were deployed. Despite this, tens of thousands of protesters have surrounded them, continuing to protest.
Two fighter aircrafts swooped low above the square, in what appeared to be yet another fruitless attempt by the military to seem in control of the chaotic city. Protesters remained undeterred by the jets, refusing to go home despite warnings
Speaking before crowds gathered later Sunday evening at Tahrir Square, ElBaradei, the former head of the United Nation's atomic watchdog, told the crowd that the people of Egypt have "taken back their rights and what we have begun cannot go back."
"We have one main demand -- the end of the regime and the beginning of a new stage, a new Egypt," Al Jazeera quoted ElBaradei as saying, adding that he bowed "to the people of Egypt in respect. I ask of you patience, change is coming in the next few days."
Amidst reports that Egypt's opposition groups are conducting talks to form a unity government, ElBaradei spoke to CNN earlier Sunday, saying that he had a popular and political mandate to negotiate the creation of a national unity government.
"I have been authorized -- mandated -- by the people who organized these demonstrations and many other parties to agree on a national unity government," he told CNN.
"I hope that I will be in touch soon with the army and we need to work together. The army is part of Egypt," the opposition leader added.
The Egyptian cabinet formally resigned Saturday at the command of Mubarak, following violent anti-government protests that have now reached their sixth day unabated.
Mubarak has yet to comment on the cabinet's resignation. The embattled president addressed the country on Saturday for the fist time since the riots began, saying that he had no intention to resign.
The protests are the most serious challenge to Mubarak's 30-year authoritarian rule. The embattled president defended the security forces' crackdown on protesters, but said that he will press ahead with social, economic and political reforms in the country.
Mubarak has not said yet whether he will stand for another six-year term as president in elections this year. He has never appointed a deputy and is thought to be grooming his son Gamal to succeed him despite popular opposition.