Mubarak’s defiance stuns Egypt and the world
What they are saying about Mubarak’s refusal to go and the risk of violence today
President Hosni Mubarak's extraordinary address to the nation last night - when he confounded all expectations that he was about to stand down - has caused fury and frustration at home and across the world.
Opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei, who had assumed Mubarak was going to cede power to a government of nation unity, called the president's speech "an act of deception" on a grand scale and warned that it could lead to violence.
In Tahrir Square, protesters waved their shoes in disgust and chanted "Down with Mubarak" when it became clear that he had no intention of resigning. His patronising reference to the young protesters as "his children" only infuriated them further.
Many protesters chanted "tomorrow, tomorrow" as they left for home last night, and there are fears the army will be bound to step in to restore order today.
As the world holds its breath to see what happens in Tahrir Square after Friday prayers, this is what media commentators and politicians have been saying overnight:
• Thomas L Friedman in the New York Times: "President Hosni Mubarak ... is staggeringly out of touch with what is happening inside his country. This is Rip Van Winkle meets Facebook. Mubarak, in one speech, shifted this Egyptian democracy drama from mildly hopeful, even thrilling, to dangerous."
• Robert Fisk in the Independent: "Mubarak tried unbelievably to placate his infuriated people with a promise to investigate the killings of his opponents in what he called 'the unfortunate, tragic events', apparently unaware of the mass fury directed at his dictatorship for his three decades of corruption, brutality and repression."
• President Barack Obama: "The Egyptian people have been told that there was a transition of authority, but it is not yet clear that this transition is immediate, meaningful or sufficient. Too many Egyptians remain unconvinced that the government is serious about a genuine transition to democracy, and it is the responsibility of the government to speak clearly to the Egyptian people and the world."
• Michele Dunne, editor of the Arab Reform Bulletin: "The Egyptian demonstrators ... may try to force the military to choose between the Mubarak/Suleiman regime and the Egyptian people. They could do this by marching en masse, several hundred thousand strong, to the presidential palace and threatening to go over the walls. The army would then have to choose between shooting at unarmed protesters or calling on the political leaders to step aside or to meet the protesters' main demands."
• Osama Ghazli Harb, professor emeritus of political science at the Suez Canal University, talking to Reuters: "I think it is strange. It means the president doesn't understand anything. I think it could be catastrophic. His intention is to continue in power in spite of the will of the people. For two weeks people have said, 'Go'. Now I'm afraid for the future."
• Ian Black, Middle East editor of the Guardian: "In a bizarre performance on state TV, Mubarak played father to his people, self-centred, angry and above all determined not to be forced from office before September, when new presidential elections are due."
• Mohamed ElBaradei, Egyptian opposition leader, via Twitter: "Egypt will explode. Army must save country now". He later told CNN: "There is no way the Egyptian people right now are ready to accept either Mubarak or his vice president. And my fear right now is this will start violence."
• Heba Fatma Morayef, a Human Rights Watch researcher, in the Times: "For the first time the generation that has only ever experienced Mubarak's repressive rule has learnt not to fear the State. Regardless of what may lie ahead, nothing will take these past two weeks away from us, when for the first time we felt our voices could help shape the future of our country.
The protests will continue until the President goes. That is the demand about which there is complete consensus.
• Roger Cohen in the New York Times: "If Egypt's battered authorities had set out to choreograph treacherous muddle, they could scarcely have done a better job... There appear to be only two possible scenarios now: an increase in the protests so overwhelming that Mubarak is forced to go back on his vow to stay in office; or an army clampdown that forces people to do what [vice president] Suleiman requested - go home." ·
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