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Egyptian President Mubarak Announces He Will Not Run For Reelection; Reaction From Prince Hassan Bin Talal of Jordan
Aired February 1, 2011 - 15:58 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Here we go. Hosni Mubarak.
HOSNI MUBARAK, PRESIDENT OF EGYPT (via translator): And which could almost push it towards the unknown. The homeland is undergoing critical events and difficult tests which have started with honest young people and citizens. They have the right for peaceful demonstrations to express their worries.
But they were exploited very soon by those who wanted to exploit the situation to create chaos and destroy the constitution. These demonstrations moved from a civilized expression of practicing freedom of speech to sad confrontations which were -- which were organized by political groups who wanted to throw fire on the oil and to threaten the stability and provoke and create looting and destruction and fires and to block roads and attack national possessions and public and private possessions, and attacks on some diplomatic missions on Egypt.
We are living together difficult days, and what is -- what hurts our hearts the most and the fear which has overtaken most Egyptians and the anxiety which has overtaken them regarding what tomorrow will bring for them and their families and the future and destiny of their country.
The events of the last few days impose on us all, as people and as a leadership, choosing between chaos and stability and brings in front of us new circumstances and a different Egyptian reality, which our people and our army must deal with in the most wise of way in order to protect Egypt's interests and its children.
My brother and sisters, citizens, I have initiated the formation of a new government with new priorities and initiatives which will respond to our young people's demands and their anxieties. And in dialogue with all political forces, we have discussed all the issues that have been raised regarding democratic and political reforms which will -- and the constitutional changes which they will require in order to fulfill these legitimate demands and the restoration of stability and security.
But there are political forces who have rejected this invitation for dialogue, holding on to their private agendas, and without concern for Egypt's situation, and with their rejection for my invitation to dialogue, which is still on.
I will directly speak to my people, from its peasants, workers, Muslims, and cooks, its old people and its young people, and to all Egyptian men and women in the countryside and in the cities across the land, and in all the districts, I never wanted power or prestige, and people know the difficult circumstances in which I shouldered the responsibility and what I have given to the homeland during war and during the peace.
I am also a man of the army, and it is not in my nature to -- to give up responsibility. My first responsibility now is to restore the security and stability of the homeland, to achieve a peaceful transition of power in an environment that will protect Egypt and Egyptians, and which will allow for responsibility to be given to whoever the people will elect in the forthcoming elections.
I will say with all honesty -- and without looking at this particular situation -- that I was not intent on -- on standing for the next elections, because I have spent enough time in serving Egypt, and I am now careful to conclude my work for Egypt by presenting Egypt to the next government in a constitutional way which will protect Egypt.
I want to say in clear terms that, in the next few months that are remaining of my current reign, I will work very hard to carry out all the necessary measures to transfer power to the authorized legitimate.
The constitutional item 77 and 76 (ph) should be changed according to allow very specific periods for presidency, and in order for the parliament to be able to discuss these constitutional changes and the legislative changes which -- of the laws linked to the constitution, and in order to guarantee that all political powers will contribute to these discussions, I ask of the parliament to commit to -- to speed up the elections.
I will pursue the transfer of power in a way that will fulfill the people's demands and that this new government will fulfill the people's demands and their hopes for political, economic and social progress, and for the provision of employment opportunities and fighting poverty and achieving social justice.
And in this context, I want to ask the police to carry out their role in protecting the citizens honestly and to respect their rights and freedoms and their dignity.
I also want to ask censorship authorities and legislative authorities to carry out immediately every measure to pursue those who are corrupt and those who have been responsible for what has happened of all the destructive acts and looting and fires that have taken place in Egypt. This is my promise for the people during the next few months that remain of my current leadership. I ask of God that he will help me to do my job in a way that will be satisfactory to God and to my homeland and its people.
Egypt will come out of these difficult circumstances stronger than it used to be before, more confident, more -- more united, and more stable. Our people will become much more aware of its own self- interests and more careful not to sacrifice its destiny and its stability. Hosni Mubarak, who's speaking to you today, is proud of all the long years he's spent in the service of people of Egypt. This dear country is my country, just like it is the homeland of every Egyptian man and woman.
I have lived in this country. I have fought for it. I have defended its sovereignty and interest, and I will die on its land, and history will judge me and others.
The homeland will remain, and people will disappear, and Egypt will always remain, and its flag will always be high. And it is our duty to achieve this with dignity and honor, generation after generation.
May God protect this homeland and its people, and peace be upon you, and God's mercy and blessings.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: And there you have it, the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, saying pretty much what we expected him to say, that he will not be standing again to be president of Egypt at the next elections in September.
Let's listen to the reaction in Tahrir Square.
BALDWIN: We are watching history unfolding.
HOLMES: It is indeed.
BALDWIN: -- safe to say.
Hundreds if not possibly thousands of Egyptians in Tahrir Square, day eight of these demonstrations, and they have been watching. You could see on the left-hand side of the screen, they had been watching Egyptian state television and the breaking news that Hosni Mubarak just made. The people have spoken. He is reacting. He will not be seeking presidency come September, but the other key part that I was listening for is the transitional government. It's still eight months until September, and it sounded to me, Michael Holmes, that he plans to oversee that transition.
HOLMES: That's it. That's what we have been predicting was going to happen based on what we knew, and that is something that is not going to be acceptable to a lot of people.
This is a pivotal moment, obviously. A happy people there in Tahrir Square, pivotal moment in this uprising and, indeed, as you said, in modern Egyptian political history, if you like. One crucial thing that I thought came out of that was he said I was not intent on standing for the next elections, basically saying, well, I wasn't going to stand anyway, so is that going to be enough to placate the people who are now cheering when they look at it all in context? No better people to ask that of than our longtime Cairo bureau chief, Ben Wedeman, and my colleague Hala Gorani standing by there in Cairo, really literally above all of this.
Guys, I hope you can hear us. Your take on that speech, not unexpected content-wise, a little bit perhaps defensive. Your read?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it was definitely defensive, but really he went through a lot of points which are on the list of demands of the protests. He's talking about, first of all, not running again in September as president. He's talking about limited presidential terms. He's talking about judicial reviews of the November/December parliamentary elections, many of which were contested in the courts.
What's interesting, however, regarding those elections, is that much of the opposition, with the exception of the Muslim Brotherhood, boycotted those elections in the first place, so they may be rather unhappy with that particular aspect, but by and large he did really make a huge step -down in that speech and he made a few other interesting points. He stressed his long years of service, dedication as a soldier and as president of the republic towards the country, and he said that I will die in the land of Egypt, which sends a clear message that he's not going to be another Zine El Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia who ran away to Saudi Arabia. He's going to stay in Egypt regardless of what happens , so quite a step-down, but he's still keeping his dignity in that speech -- Michael.
HOLMES: Hala, got to bring you in there quickly, too. The people's reaction, obviously effusive to this initial speech.
HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR/CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, absolutely. You can hear the roar of the crowd from our live shot position here which is several hundred meters away. They had a large screen where they were all able to watch the presidential speech, but now the big test, and you mentioned this before coming to us, Michael, the big test is going to be tomorrow.
Is this enough to satisfy the protesters, many of whom told me a few hours ago I will not be happy unless he steps down. We don't want him to say he won't run for reelection. We want him to say he is leaving, but based on the crowd reaction tonight, and also based on the fact that as Ben mentioned there many concessions were made, despite the defensive nature of this speech, it is possible to imagine that this will take the sting, the passion out of the protests that we have seen so far -- Michael.
HOLMES: All right, Hala Gorani and Ben Wedeman there on the spot -- Brooke.
BALDWIN: And I think what was being pointed out to us, someone speaking Arabic, what they are chanting there is they're saying we're not leaving Thursday. We're not leaving Friday. We're not leaving.
So I'm not sure if what's being lost perhaps in translation is that these perhaps are not cheers. Maybe that announcement wasn't good enough.
HOLMES: If indeed that's an accurate translation of the reaction after the speech, then, yes, they are not happy.
BALDWIN: They are not happy.
I want to go to Becky Anderson, my colleague in London.
Because, Becky, we have been focusing so much on Egypt, but really the world has also been watching the reaction within the Middle East.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: That's right, particularly in the region. Quite remarkable scenes in Cairo, of course. This -- winds of change have blown through many countries, of course, during the last few weeks.
In Jordan, King Abdullah has sacked his entire government after thousands took to the streets on the weekend calling for reform in the country, a preemptive strike by Jordan, perhaps, to avoid, or at least to try to avoid, being the next Egypt or Tunisia.
Joining me live is the prince of Jordan live from Amman.
Your response, firstly, to what's happened tonight in Egypt.
H.R.H. PRINCE HASSAN BIN TALAL, PRINCE OF JORDAN: Well, I think, Becky, that what President Mubarak has done before I speak of Jordan is that he talked about tomorrow in the context of September but some of them, as you say, have accepted and others have not.
He's recognized the importance of youth, and we've got 100 million youth unemployed by 2020, and he and all of us are well aware of that. We have to develop a relationship between civil society, the people, that is, the people in the street and the government.
And I think it's for that reason that it's very obvious that this is not an Erich Honecker moment. It is President Mubarak saying that Egypt will remain a strong bastion for his friends in Egypt.
ANDERSON: Yes, he said he wouldn't run again, he certainly hasn't said, though, that he will leave the country by any stretch of the imagination or ever, in fact.
Do you think that's going to be enough?
BIN TALAL: Well, I don't think that the crowd is going to turn away that easily. I think it's going to be democracy as a process rather than democracy as a state.
I think that external influences have not been helpful, quite honestly. I mean the Israelis asking the world to curb its criticism of Egypt and its president, however well intended that may be, has not gone down well any more than the WikiLeaks about Tunisia went down well before the president of Tunisia left Tunis. ANDERSON: All right. All right.
BIN TALAL: So I think this is an issue for the Egyptian people to be decided by the Egyptian people. That's what Mubarak said.
ANDERSON: All right. Jordanians have been pushing for change and King Abdullah, your nephew has acted. Would a change in his government, though, be enough at this point?
BIN TALAL: Well, I know the incoming prime minister. I think that in terms of his recent writings, I'm not a Jordanian official, I can't speak for him officially and it would be unethical of me to preempt his statement of acceptance and his statement before parliament, but he is very aware of the need to modernize, to develop an independent judiciary is the role of the judiciary and of the legislature, but more than that develop a third domain of government, private sector and civil society at large.
We simply cannot continue to host 7 million people. We would have been 2.5 million in 1990 in Jordan without recognizing our responsibilities to all categories of refugees, to the poor, to the disenfranchised and this is what is upsetting people 14 to 24.
As I said, 100 million people out of jobs in the Arab world by 2020. We can't talk about investment in arms and triumphalist economy without recognizing we have to start doing something for people, enabling them before it's too late.
ANDERSON: And many of those people, as many of our viewers will see, on the streets of Cairo tonight, celebrating the news of the hour and that is that the president of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, says he'll stand down the next elections, that he won't run again at this stage though he says that he won't be leaving the country.
We're going to stay with our coverage here on CNN with our partners domestically. You're watching CNN International and CNN domestic and across the region people will be watching what's going on on the streets of Egypt this evening. Quite remarkable stuff.
Let's get back to our colleagues in the U.S. now -- Michael.
HOLMES: All right. Becky Anderson in London, thanks so much for that.
Extraordinary stuff and the reaction of those people in the streets, you know, those people in the streets are a small amount of the people in Egypt, so we've got to keep that in mind, too, and keep this in perspective.
We've had people also speaking out today on our air as well saying that they support Hosni Mubarak and that they don't want things to go too quickly the other way. So we've got to keep that in context as well. But those chants in Arabic after the speech, down, down.
BALDWIN: They say we won't leave, he should leave. We have people, of course, here at CNN speaking Arabic and translating some of these chants for us. And you know, it appears it's not all cheers. They are angry. They say we will be here Thursday. We will be here Friday. We are not leaving.
We are continuing our breaking coverage here on CNN of the situation unfolding, all the reaction. We will be right back.
BALDWIN: Welcome back.
Breaking news here. We heard from Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak just several minutes ago essentially saying he does not plan to seek reelection come September. Really he said he had not intended -- almost defensively -- had not intended to seek reelection, but he will from what we perceived from that prerecorded address he does intend to oversee the transition, which makes the people there in Tahrir Square none too pleased.
HOLMES: In fact, basically saying he's going to stick around until the elections, for which he wasn't going to stand for president anyway.
One other interesting thing Ben Wedeman mentioned earlier which is that he's also saying the constitution should be changed to introduce presidential term limits which, of course, hasn't affected him over the last 30 years, but an interesting thing.
Now that was reaction on your screen there, Tahrir Square. Seems like a lot of cheering, a lot of carrying on.
Ivan Watson is overlooking that scene, and Ivan, we're hearing that chants were down, down with Mubarak. They weren't buying into the stick around till September option.
IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, not at all. In fact, right away people here started chanting leave, leave, leave, down, down, Hosni Mubarak. We're not leaving. We'll be here today, we'll be here Thursday, we'll be here Friday, we will stay.
So immediately a note of defiance coming from the people here who have helped lead a movement that some are calling a revolution that forced their president to take to the airwaves to announce that he would not run for office again at the end of this year, that he would seek to end his term and usher in a transition of power.
There were also boos coming from the crowd when he says that some people who had begun peaceful protests and then began acting outside of the constitution and hurting the country and that they perhaps would need to be punished. At that point, the crowd launched into an echoing boo -- (AUDIO GAP)
BALDWIN: Looks like we lost him.
HOLMES: Just got a lock up on the satellite. It will probably come back any second now, so we'll get back to Ivan when we come. BALDWIN: Let's go to Ben. Ben Wedeman, if you're there, also alongside Hala Gorani. And Ben, I know you've been there for decades. You speak Arabic, help me out here. What have you heard from your perch?
WEDEMAN: Well, they are a long way away from here. Even if I speak the language, I don't have that good ears.
But what we did hear is the crowd roaring and, of course, we do know that they are going to stick around and do this on Thursday and on Friday, but let's keep in mind one thing, this is not a huge number in the crowd at this point.
There are a lot of Egyptians who aren't taking part in this -- in these demonstrations, who will be reassured that potentially, and I stress potentially, this crisis is going to lose its edge. Many people have expressed their desire to see a change, but nobody wants to see radical change, change that could fundamentally destabilize this country.
I spoke with an analyst I've known for many years, and I trust his opinion. Yesterday, he said at this point what Egypt needs is not some headlong rush into democracy. What -- what Egypt needs to do is stabilize the situation, bring an end to the looting and the lawlessness and start the hard work of real reform, of rewriting the constitution, going through all of the mistakes of the past 30 years and fixing things rather than revolution which could come at a very high price.
GORANI: And a point that we were discussing with Ben as well, this Egyptian example, if indeed it does succeed in creating an environment where Democratic reform can slowly and in a stable way take hold in this country, the most populist Arab country in the world, what impact will it have regionally because you have many other Arab autocracies with similar systems of government and just as much frustration and jobless among young, educated, talented people in this region.
So the question is, once this example is set -- this isn't Tunisia, this is 80 million people with an example of potentially being able to transition into a more democratic system -- what will happen next? What is the next country?
BALDWIN: Hala Gorani, Ben Wedeman, my thanks to both of you.
And, you know, to the point that so many have made earlier, the fact that a lot of people out on the streets, they are young. We know young people are resilient, but it's a matter of how long can they last on the streets demonstrating perhaps before they are starved and have to go home?
HOLMES: Yes, exactly. And Ben made a point, we made it earlier, too, you've got to keep in context who is represented here and how many people are there. Country of 82 million, a very complicated dynamic, if you like, in that country at the best of times, but certainly those there listening to that speech not at all happy. And any number of analysts saying so far that, you know, it's a bit of a stretch for him to come out and say, well, I wasn't going to run anyway. I'm going to stick around for the next seven or eight months with my own people behind me all the way through and we'll see what happens in September.
BALDWIN: So perhaps this is not the last time we see Mr. Mubarak on state-run television talking future plans.
HOLMES: I think that's probably a safe bet.
BALDWIN: All right, Mr. Holmes, appreciate it so much.
HOLMES: Great to be with you.
BALDWIN: Let's get a break in. CNN will be right back.
BALDWIN: Welcome back to the breaking news there in Egypt. Are they jeers or cheers out of the Tahrir Square, the epicenter of these demonstrations, really, the past eight days? Today marking day eight? According to our own Arabic translators here at CNN, the chants we've been hearing, "We will be here Friday. We will be here Saturday. We're not leaving."
And I want to talk to Arwa Damon who is in the midst of this who also speaks Arabic. And Arwa, help translate for me what you're hearing, and am I correct in saying there are more jeers than cheers?
ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIOAL CORRESPONDENT (via phone): Well, Brooke, I have to say that I have never seen the crowd here at the demonstrations as angry as they were in those moments after the president's speech. They erupted in those very same jeers we heard before he actually spoke again, reiterating their demands that they want him out.
It is not enough for the people here that he is saying he would not be running in the next election. People broke out shouting angrily, waving their shoes in the air, an extreme insult in the Arab world. But when we asked them why this wasn't enough for them, they simply said they do not trust the president. They said he was a liar.
Another man that we spoke to saying, look, he can do anything to us in this time period where he would remain in power. He can kill even more people amongst us. The rage amongst the crowd was truly palpable in those moments. They were furious. They were saying the fact that he was offering the type of a concession was an insult to them and that there was no way that they would be accepting it. One man went on to threaten that if he does not step down immediately, we will be seeing these types of demonstrations, these types of crowds at the presidential palace itself, Brooke.
HOLMES: Now I'll jump in. Arwa, it's Michael. Ben Wedeman was alluding to this earlier, the danger of running headlong into democracy. Those excited, disappointed people that you've been hanging out, got an alternative than just go? DAMON: No. There doesn't seem to be an alternative to just go, and everybody is reiterating that. One young man I was talking to said, look, we have absolutely had it. We've been stuck with this regime for 30 years. Our patience is running thin. Our economy is in shambles. He himself was unemployed, even though he said he was fluent in four languages. He's like, we need to wipe the slate clean. We want this man out of our country. We want anyone associated with him out of the government.
There doesn't seem to be any room for compromise. One woman we speak to, reiterating a point we heard from many people and that is that they don't trust the president. They don't trust what he's saying, and she emphasized the fact that they were going to be staying camped out, trying to keep up the same momentum of demonstrations until he actually steps down and left, Michael.
BALDWIN: But Arwa -- back to me. When you talk about the momentum of these demonstrations, I mean, the next obvious question is how do they sustain the momentum? You've reported on the lack and the shortage of food and water. How long can they stay out there if they run out of that?
DAMON: Well, we actually asked a couple of demonstrators how they were coping with the current hardships of the country, and they were saying, look, we're borrowing from one another. Neighbors are helping neighbors out. One young man we spoke to said in fact that it was his neighbors that helped to bring him food and water. At the demonstration site itself, a number of people were sustaining themselves on donations from other citizens that would come down here distributing food, distributing water.
But it is important to point out that when you move away from the demonstration site and into the streets of Cairo, when you go in and you try to talk to people at these very long lines at the local bread factories, they are very angry and for a different reason. They are angry at the demonstrators for bringing this country to a near paralysis. They are also angry at the international media for what they are calling a distorted image of what Egypt is.
And it does appear as if this entire society, at least from what we can see, really is on the verge of cracking. On the one hand you have a very determined set of demonstrators that want to stick it out. On the other hand, you have people who are not willing perhaps to sacrifice this much to see this regime fall, Brooke?
BALDWIN: Arwa Damon. Arwa, thank you so much for that perspective in the midst of those crowds. We appreciate it. Quite a scene.
HOLMES: It is indeed. You know, Arwa also speaks fluent Arabic, of course, and she's been following all that at the very grassroots street level there.
BALDWIN: Having President Mubarak leave come September is clearly not good enough for the Egyptian people. HOLMES: That's exactly right. They want it to be sooner than that. We're going to take a short break. Hopefully, we'll have a very good interview, a very interesting interview coming your way after that so you'll want to stick around.
HOLMES: Welcome back. Continuing coverage of extraordinary events in Egypt over the last couple of hours. The incumbent president, Hosni Mubarak saying he's not going to stand for president, the presidential elections in September. Changes the political makeup of the country, if he lasts that long.
Now, I want to go to Becky Anderson in London. Becky is standing by there, and she's going to be speaking with somebody who could help answer the question what next after Hosni Mubarak? Becky?
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: That's right. That's the big question, isn't it, Michael? Remarkable scenes out of Cairo tonight, and a mix of emotions.
I want to bring in some crucial perspective for you now. I've got Amr Moussa on the phone with me. He's the secretary-general of the Arab League, and not an uninterested party. He was also foreign minister in President Mubarak's government for ten years.
And I believe, sir, you've suggested at times in the recent past that you'd be prepared to step in, if indeed it was needed. But firstly, let's just get your response to what you've seen and heard out of Egypt this evening.
Amr Moussa, your reaction to what you've seen in Cairo this evening and heard from President Mubarak?
AMR MOUSSA, SECRETARY-GENERAL, ARAB LEAGUE (via phone): Well, the reaction is very clear. This is a very important step that the president has announced now, that he is not going to run again. That his reign will be done six months from now, seven months from now, and that the constitution will be amended to limit the duration of the presidency, of any president.
Those are all among the demands that people wanted to see and called for, insisted on. I'm aware that there are certain currents in Egypt that will not see that as satisfactory and they need more. I trust the debate from now on, at least in the next couple of days or so, would center around the point whether this is enough or no. Should we accept it or no?
I believe that there is something new that has been offered. It should be considered carefully, and the -- and the important thing is that the message that the president is not going to continue, is not going to hold, this is an important thing --
ANDERSON: Okay. Let's just -- I want to just interrogate what he said tonight because it's important. There are people on the streets of Cairo and one assumes elsewhere that are furious tonight. What they have been asking for, Amr Moussa, is for Mubarak to step down and to step down now. They haven't got that. What they have got is him saying he won't run again, and to all intents and purposes, he'll be there for the next nine months or so. He said that he is proud of all the years that he's spent in the service of the Egyptian people, and that he will stay in the land. So, he's certainly not thinking about going at this point.
So, the question is this. What happens next?
MOUSSA: Yes. The point is the demonstrators want him to step down now, and he decided to step down, but later, within months. And stepped down to stay in Egypt, and I -- I think that all those demands that he should step down now or he should depart, didn't mean that he should leave the country necessarily. We can't -- we have to build on what has been announced today. And I trust that the debate will be very intense but very objective in the next couple of days or so.
ANDERSON: All right.
MOUSSA: In order for there to be a consensus around the next step, a consensus around amending the constitution, around the new way of presidency that should not last more than two terms, something around that (INAUDIBLE) achievements.
ANDERSON: Amr Moussa, let me put this to you. Who is the natural leader for Egypt going forward, and will you put yourself up for that position?
MOUSSA: Well, this will be known in the next few months. There will be a lot of people starting to run for the presidency, and it will be -- democracy will be in the working from now on. But in order to complete to get this post, to get the job of the president of Egypt. This is an important development, very important development --
ANDERSON: Let me push you on this. Let me just push you on this because I know that you in the past have said that you would be prepared to play an interim part, so let me put this to you again. Will you stand in what will be, one hopes, free and fair elections in September for president of Egypt?
MOUSSA: Yes, I have that right, but I would think it seriously within the next few weeks.
ANDERSON: All right. With that, we're going to leave it there. Amr Moussa, do we appreciate your time and thoughts this evening on what really is an historic night for the people of Egypt. Not one that necessarily that those on the streets had hoped for, not all of them, at least. Some are furious that the president of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, has decided that he will certainly not run again in the elections in September. But he's decided that he will at least stay in the country at this point.
I think we need to take a very short break here on CNN. We'll be back after this. (COMMERICAL BREAK)
BALDWIN: Welcome back. Breaking news.
One of many questions at this hour is who will be at the helm next of Egypt? Who will be the next president? We just heard in that interview Amr Moussa, the secretary-general of the Arab League, saying maybe, let me think about it over the next two months.
HOLMES: We'll see, yes.
BALDWIN: We were all listening sort of with bated breath over that. But, of course, after the big announcement from Hosni Mubarak, he had no intent on running for president come September, he does plan to oversee though this whole transition.
And another key point that Amr Moussa brought up, the fact that he wants to change the constitution. A man who has been in power 30 years says hang on a second, I think presidents should have term limits.
HOLMES: Yes, exactly. And I guess what you would expect from Amr Moussa at this point. He's just sort of waiting and seeing and biding his time.
Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, former head of the IAEA, he will probably throw his hat in the ring at some point soon, too.
Now, we've been watching these scenes in Tahrir Square in Cairo, but another major city has been having demonstrations, huge demonstrations. And amid the people there has been Nic Robertson for several days now. Nic, joining us.
Nic, I don't know what reaction you saw there. Were the people listening to the speech? And what was their reaction?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I can certainly say there's no dancing in the streets and no celebration here. And from what we can hear, and have been able to see, the large demonstration that was taking place earlier has pretty much broken up and moved on. But we've managed here to contact one of the activist groups, or a member of one of the activist groups here, who played a big role in organizing people through social media a week ago to get out on the streets.
And his comment -- and he said there will be a full statement tomorrow. His comment was that this is really a time-buying tactic by President Mubarak, this falls short of what everyone is wanting, this demand that he should step down.
But having been at that demonstration today and talked to a number of people there, one of the themes that's emerging today is people are concerned, very concerned about the stability at the moment. And there are people there who are saying, look, there's a new government going to be formed. If we can just get the guarantee of elections coming up soon, then that will be enough. 60 days, 90 days for the elections, we can be happy with that.
We need to be in a safe pair of hands. We can carry on the demonstrations for a long time, but we need this safe transition.
So you can see there's certainly -- for some people here, this is going to help them in what they want. They want a safe transition.
Of course, the louder voices on the streets are demanding that he must go now, must go today. Very emotional calls. And no doubt, that's going to emerge as a central theme tomorrow.
But there will be people here who will feel perhaps this is heading a long way in the direction of where they would like to go. Perhaps just another step if he does step down and just leave it with the vice president until you have these interim elections. But you can see it edging in the way of what people want -- Michael.
HOLMES: Nic, good to get your analysis, my friend. Thanks so much.
Nic Robertson, there in Alexandria.
BALDWIN: Well, of course the whole world has been watching what's been happening in Egypt, and that includes Washington, D.C.
I want to take you to our CNN White House. Our CNN White House Correspondent Dan Lothian is there.
And Dan, we know there's been a meeting in a room in the White House the past hour or two with the president, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, other top national security advisers were watching that pre-recorded address. And to be a fly on that wall.
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. That's the new information that we have, according to a White House official, that in fact the president, Secretary Clinton, others who were involved in that meeting, which was a late add to the president's schedule, that they indeed were watching the remarks by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak very closely.
Obviously, this administration has been trying to figure out in a very delicate way how to deal with the unrest in Egypt, this balance between throwing support behind the protesters or behind Mr. Mubarak himself. And the administration had been very clear over the last few days that they did not want to meddle in the internal affairs of the Egyptian government, that it really was up to the Egyptian people.
But what we saw at least over the last 24 hours or so is an administration that has been inching more towards supporting the protesters rather than Mr. Mubarak himself. And that began when yesterday, the administration dispatched Frank Wisner, a former ambassador to Egypt, to go there, a close friend of Hosni Mubarak, to talk to him. And according to sources, gently nudge him to step aside. Although, as you saw in this speech, he pretty much said that this was something he intended to do all along. It does appear, at least on that front, that the administration has been somewhat successful.
But as others have reported, this administration privately would be more interested in seeing Mubarak step down now, and certainly those on the streets. You heard the voices of those on the streets who believe that as well.
So we're waiting to find out what the administration will say next publicly. There was a briefing that was supposed to take place at 2:30. That was postponed. We have not been told if that will be happening any time soon, or perhaps even if the president will come out and make some remarks. We're standing by here at the White House.
BALDWIN: That was my next question. You just answered it for me. So it's still a big question mark as to whether or not we will hear from anyone from the White House or not given what President Mubarak has told the world.
Dan Lothian, we thank you there at the White House.
And we're going to get a break in. CNN will be right back.
BALDWIN: Welcome back. Breaking news out of Egypt.
Still live pictures of Tahrir Square. And, you know, we've been trying to interpret what some of the demonstrators have been saying, and many of them are none too pleased from what we heard from President Hosni Mubarak. They're saying we're going to stick around Thursday, we're sticking around Friday, we are not leaving. And they are not leaving, they say, until Hosni Mubarak is out.
HOLMES: Yes. It will be interesting to see what happens tomorrow, when daylight comes, and if this size crowd can be maintained.
HOLMES: And the fervor maintained. Again, this is a smallish group in a country of 82 million people.
What are they saying? Well, Becky Anderson in London has been talking to one of them and gives us a sense of what's going on.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: That's right. Has he done enough or said enough? That's the big question. And who better to ask directly than a protester.
He's been on the streets day in and day out since all this began. Gigi Ibrahim has been talking to us regularly on our show here in London, and she joins us now. She joins us now.
Gigi, Mubarak will go, he says, but not for several months. Is that enough?
GIGI IBRAHIM, PROTESTER: Absolutely not. It's a joke, actually.
These demands people have been asking for years and years now, and he can't -- he can't just give those concessions after six million people protested, and demanding that he leave today in Egypt. I mean, it's absolutely ridiculous. We'll take it as if he didn't say anything.
ANDERSON: All right. And how did people react on the streets today?
IBRAHIM: I just called a friend who was in Tahrir Square right now, and she told me that people took off their shoes and threw them in disappointment, as if, like, they are throwing it at Mubarak. They are really not, you know -- they are taking it as a joke, and they are not happy with these concessions. It's meaningless.
ANDERSON: So the question is this -- will people stick around, or is this -- or is Mubarak going to brazen this out and will the protesters give up at this point? What's your sense?
IBRAHIM: Absolutely not. The numbers, like I said, every day they have been increasing. And today we hit our peak, I think.
And I think it's going to only increase, and this -- these protests will escalate. And there are escalations. And we will soon enough, you know, occupy other squares and surround the TV building this coming Friday, and surround the presidential palace demanding that he leave. And the people are so determined and so persistent, and they will not stop until Mubarak is out.
ANDERSON: Hosni Mubarak said today, and I quote, "I am proud of all the years that I have spent serving the Egyptian people, and I will die in this land."
He is going nowhere at this point. That's not good enough as far as you're concerned, right?
IBRAHIM: He needs to just step down out of power. Nobody chose him.
The six million people today in the streets demanded that he leave, and in the past presidential election, in 2005, with all the rigging and all the fraud that just systematically goes in elections in Egypt, he only got six million votes. So I think he is not legitimately a president anymore, so I don't know what kind of a message does he want louder than six million in the streets demanding that he leave?
ANDERSON: All right.
Gigi Ibrahim, a blogger, an activist who has been on the streets day in and day out in Egypt.
We thank you for joining us.
For the time being, that's it for us.
Michael, back to you.
HOLMES: Yes, me and Brooke still sitting here. We're about to go, too.
"THE SITUATION ROOM" coming up.
International viewers, as well, "BACKSTORY" not on because I'm here.
BALDWIN: Now to Wolf Blitzer in Washington -- Wolf.