Yesterday afternoon Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak announced that he would not seek re-election when his term expires in September, but rejected protester demands that he step down immediately.
“I will work for the final remaining months of the current term to accomplish the necessary steps for the peaceful transfer of power,” he said.
In the announcement, carried live on Egyptian State Television after eight days of protests, Mubarak pledged to bring both constitutional and social reform during his remaining time as president. However, such words were lost on almost all Egyptian protesters who want Mubarak to resign immediately.
Later yesterday evening, President Obama spoke with the Egyptian president.
“After his speech tonight, I spoke directly to President Mubarak,” Obama remarked during a televised statement from the White House briefing room. “He recognizes that the status quo is not sustainable and that a change must take place.”
Most importantly, President Obama added this:
“Now, it is not the role of any other country to determine Egypt’s leaders. Only the Egyptian people can do that. What is clear — and what I indicated tonight to President Mubarak — is my belief that an orderly transition must be meaningful, it must be peaceful, and it must begin now.”
President Obama’s statement, nudging the Egyptian president to step aside now rather than later, was a stark contrast from Mubarak’s statement earlier in the day, and the administration’s own response up until yesterday.
Executive Editor Andrew Zucker contributed reporting.Share