Egypt’s Defiant Dictator Mubarak: speech sparks renewed anger

President Hosni Mubarak speaking on state TV on 10 February 2011
President Hosni Mubarak speaking on state TV on 10 February 2011
© Egypt state TV/afrol News

10 February – President Hosni Mubarak just does not want to go, his televised speech revealed, sparking new anger among the millions of Egyptians protesting in the streets of Cairo and other cities. The anger could spark revolt.

“He must leave, he must leave!” was the uniform shouting of millions in the streets of Cairo as it became clear that President Mubarak would not step down before the September elections.

President Mubarak only made minor concessions in his speech, which he started by calling himself the “father” of Egyptians, being his “children”. While not stepping down, he would transfer some of the executive powers to Vice-President Omar Suleiman, himself not a popular figure among Egyptian protesters.

He further promised constitutional changes that would make it easier for presidential candidates to stand forward and elections to be held in a freer ambient. However, the amendments had been proposed by a committee appointed by the President himself and had been approved by him alone. Protesters had completely different demands for a constitutional reform.

President Mubarak further said that the constitutional amendments would lead to the lifting of the decades-old state of emergency, but did not name a timetable for this. Finally, he emphasised on his compassion with the protesting youths, mourning for the “martyrs” of Tahrir Square.

Among the protesters – only in central Cairo and estimated record 3 million had taken to the streets – the celebrative mood before the speech turned into silence and little by little outbreaks of anger. People had expected him to step down, following several significant events earlier today.

Earlier today, the Egyptian army had issued its first statement since the unrest started, saying “the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces convened today, 10 February 2011, to consider developments to date, and decided to remain in continuous session to consid

Central Cairo's Tahrir Square packed with protesters minutes before Mr Mubarak's speech
Central Cairo’s Tahrir Square packed with protesters minutes before Mr Mubarak’s speech
© Dena Shunra/afrol News

er what procedures and measures that may be taken to protect the nation, and the achievements and aspirations of the great people of Egypt.”

Army leaders, today visiting protesting at Tahrir Square, further had made it clear that “all” of the protesters’ demands were legitimate and would “be met”. The protesters’ principal demand had been that President Mubarak must step down right now.

The dramatic move came after trade unions and striking workers yesterday started supporting the protests. Today, more and more groups had joined the strike and protests, all demanding political change and the resignation of President Mubarak.

In the hours before President Mubarak’s speech, even Egypt’s strictly regulated state broadcasters switched sides. State TV reporters talked about the need to erect a monument for the martyrs of Tahrir Square and for the first time, pictures showing the real extent of the protests in central Cairo were aired on the broadcaster.

With the army, the President’s own party and state media today recalling their support for Mr Mubarak, protesters and most analysts agreed it was no longer possible for him holding onto his position.

The angered and disappointed crowds are bound to react. Protesters are now starting to pour out of Tahrir Square. Some are chanting: “We are going to the Presidential palace! We are going to the Presidential palace!”

There could still be many events this night, although it is close to midnight in Egypt. But there is no question that millions of Egyptians will take to the streets again tomorrwo, with the strikes bound to grow in extent. The pressure on Mr Mubarak has not eased after his speech – rather the opposite.

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