Thursday, February 10, 2011

Egypt's President Refuses To Step Down But Give More Authority To VP

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said Thursday he has passed authority to Vice President Omar Suleiman, but will not step down before September elections.

The move, announced in a nationally-televised address, means he will retain his title of president and ensures the regime will continue to control the reform process.

Immediately after his speech, Suleiman addressed the nation and urged protesters to return to their homes.

"To the youth of Egypt, and the heroes of Egypt, go back to your home and your works, the nation needs you so that we can build and develop and innovate," said Suleiman.

"Let us walk together, hand in hand, in a new path that achieves the hope of the youth and all generations for a new life, a stable life, and a safe life," he added.

Mubarak's announcement was not what hundreds of thousands of protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square had hoped for, as they resumed their chants of "Leave! Leave! Leave!"

"I will never leave Egypt and Egypt will not leave me until I am buried in the soil of Egypt," Mubarak said in his 15-minute address.

Mubarak said the demands of the protesters calling for his immediate ouster are legitimate. He said he had requested the amendment of five articles of the constitution to loosen the now restrictive conditions on who can run for president, to restore judicial supervision of elections, and to impose term limits on the presidency. He also said that he would lift hated emergency laws -- but only when security permitted.

Mubarak also vowed to punish those behind violence over the past two weeks and offered condolences to the families of those killed.

President Obama said earlier Thursday at a new wireless initiative event in Michigan that "we are witnessing history unfold."

"The people of Egypt are calling for a change," Obama said.

The president also said the U.S. will do anything it can to support a smooth transition of power in Egypt.