It is nightfall in Egypt. Perhaps a million Egyptians are gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, AKA Liberation Square. President Mubarak is yet the president of Egypt. But he knew it was time to speak up or leave.
Mubarak has made a statement before the crowds, his main message: that he is not going to run for re-election in September. That is just not good enough for those gathered in the square. They want him to leave now.
Senator John Kerry has also asked that Mubarak step down.
Mubarak mentioned a need to limit terms (he has served 32 years). But he said he is going to stay and die in Egypt. So he seems bent on not going anywhere and on overseeing the next stage.
But the demonstrators are saying, “We don’t want this man!” It is not enough that Mubarak has stated that he won’t run again.
The greatest fear is that there won’t be any political shift or change if Mubarak is anywhere on the political scene. CNN ran a recorded, translated message from Mubarak that to my ears was so much mumbo-jumbo. He blasted the protesters and accused the revolt of anarchy and not resolving any problems, rather creating them by looting and attacking diplomatic missions.
He kept saying that we are living some “difficult days.” The people believe that it was their leader who precipitated these difficult days. In his recorded statement he said that he has initiated a new government that will respond to the demands of the young people. He said that all the demands have been discussed and the “legitimate demands” will be addressed. Mubarak then issued an “invitation to dialogue that is still on.”
He pledges to transfer power to the legitimate government to fulfill the people’s demands. In his statement he asked the Parliament to speed up elections and suggested that there were some constitutional changes that needed to be made as well, like term limits. While loud “cheering” seems to rise from the crowds, the journalists think there is something lost in translation and the people are shouting, “We are not leaving tomorrow, or Thursday, or anyday.” And not encouraging the President.
The people don’t want to dialogue with President Mubarak or his new cabinet. They want him gone. Will they take him up on his extended olive branch and his promise of jobs for young men and relief from poverty? Only time will tell. The Egyptian has spoken and has told his people he plans to live and die in Egypt.