In his second major speech since protests began, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak announced that he would not stand for re-election in September. He said that, at 82, he was actually not planning to run for re-election anyway, so… there.
Mubarak said that he would direct his Parliament to pursue Constitutional and legislative reforms, in particular the eligibility of certain parties to stand as candidates, like the Muslim Brotherhood. In past years the MB has had to run as independents, their party having been barred from taking part in elections. In addition, Mubarak said that he would direct his Vice President Omar Suleiman to look into irregularities from the recent Parliamentary elections.
Mubarak closed his address by saying “I will die on the soil of Egypt… and I will be judged by history.” This rejects the core demand of the protests, that he give up power immediately, and contrasts himself with the Tunisian dictator Ben Ali, who fled his country.
The reaction in Tahrir Square, where televisions were set up to watch the address, was immediate and dramatic. The chant was “Erhal! Erhal!”, or “Leave! Leave!”
The bottom line is that this will not placate the protesters, who want the Mubarak regime out right now. The protests will continue until that occurs. He cannot bargain for a few remaining scraps of power. He commands no respect among the people in the street.
…the crowd at Tahrir Square is now chanting “On Friday we will be at the Presidential Palace!”