Embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak announced Tuesday that he would not run in the next elections in the country, following mass protests that have been ravaging the country for the past week.
The protests throughout Egypt culminated Tuesday night in a huge rally in Tahrir Square in central Cairo, in which more than a million people reportedly gathered to demand his resignation.
"I did not have the intention of running in the next election and wanted to spend my life trying to serve the people," he said in a televised address to the nation. "Now I want to finish my role while Egypt is at peace."
The next presidential election is scheduled for September, but in his address, Mubarak pressed his cabinet to speed up elections. Until this most recent announcement, officials had indicated that Mubarak, 82, would likely run for a sixth six-year term as president, a role he has held for over 30 years. There were also indications that he was grooming his son, Gamal, to take his place.
Mubarak claimed the opposite in his speech, saying "I never intended to be a candidate for another term."
The half-way concession - an end to his rule months down the road - was immediately derided by protesters massed in Cairo's main downtown square.
Watching his speech on a giant TV set up in Tahrir square, protesters booed and waved their shoes over the heads in a sign of contempt." Go, go, go! We are not leaving until he leaves," they chanted.
"During the next few months I am going to try hard so that we can fulfill a peaceful transition of the regime," the president said in a speech that was greeted by loud cheers and jubilation from the crowd gathered in Tahrir Square. There were, however, many in the square who vowed that they would continue their protests until the president left office immediately.
Among the changes he said he intended to make, the president said he would seek changes to the constitution. In an earlier attempt to appease the protests, Mubarak sacked his cabinet and appointed a new one. But protesters have been resolute in saying that they refuse to stop their demonstrations until Mubarak resigns.
Speaking about the riots which have left a reported 100 people dead and over 1000 wounded, Mubarak said that they were organized by political groups that wanted to threaten the country's stability.
He concluded his speech by saying that he did not plan on leaving Egypt after stepping down at the end of his term. Mubarak, a former air force officer, took over the presidency following the assassination of Anwar Sadat in 1981.
"The Hosni Mubarak who speaks to you today is proud of his achievements over the years in serving Egypt and its people," he said. "This is my country. This is where I lived, I fought and defended its land, sovereignty and interests, and I will die on its soil."
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