Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Egypt's Mubarak Won't Run Again, but Protesters Look to Speed His Exit

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Egypt's Mubarak Won't Run Again, but Protesters Look to Speed His Exit

Article excerpt

President Mubarak, bowing to pressure at home and apparently from the US, said Tuesday he will not seek reelection in September. Dissatisfied, protesters look to Egypt's military to take their side.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak announced his decision Tuesday not to seek reelection in September, a move meant as a compromise to the thousands of protesters demanding his departure from power.

But the response from Cairo's Tahrir Square, where thousands of demonstrators ignored a curfew to keep up pressure on the regime, was loud and clear: "No, not good enough. Mubarak must go now!"

All eyes will now shift to Friday, some experts in the region say, when the dissatisfied protesters are expected to launch another major march to demand that Egypt's military take their side and force Mr. Mubarak's departure.

"The military will be the deciding factor in this standoff between Mubarak and the protesters," says Julie Taylor, a specialist in Egypt at the Rand Corp., a think tank in Arlington, Va. "The young people in particular are going to demand that the Army take their side and insist that Mubarak step down."

For his part, President Obama said in a statement Tuesday that the transition "must be meaningful, it must be peaceful, and it must begin now." Though he did not specifically address Mubarak's plan, he added that he "recognizes that the status quo is not sustainable and that a change must take place."

Protesters' unmet demands risked obscuring what nevertheless was a remarkable moment: The authoritarian leader of 30 years of the Arab world's largest country had just bowed, if not fully acquiesced, to popular demands. In addition to saying he won't run again for president, Mubarak called for a rewriting of the constitution to limit presidential terms, and to strengthen guarantees of the rule of law. He also said he would order a review of last year's parliamentary elections, which Egyptian opposition forces and foreign observers alike criticized as particularly corrupt.

Mubarak pledged to oversee "the transfer of power that will fulfill the people's demands," but even that statement seemed to contain the seeds of continuing protest. …

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