Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak spoke on Egyptian TV today and, as expected, announced that he wouldn’t seek reelection. But he will stick around through an ill-specified “transfer of power,” and may torture a few more people along the way.
Leaving aside the whole torturous police and censorship state aspects, it must’ve been bad enough for Egyptians just having to listen to this guy give speeches for the last 30 years. He opened his speech with a long, defensive rant about how radicals and secret forces were inflaming the crowd against him, the beloved leader who carried Egypt on his back and kept it safe all these years.
Then he grudgingly confirmed that he wouldn’t run for re-election, but claimed he never planned on doing that anyway. Oh really! Especially since it took a week of top level phone calls from world officials and millions of people in the street around the clock and burning buildings everywhere for him to say that. Also, the fact that he was intending to run, as documented by news articles and the fact that he’s an autocrat.
“I never wanted prestige or power,” he added, without breaking into laughter.
But until the September elections, at least, he plans on going everywhere and annoying everyone:
“I have spent enough time serving Egypt,” Mubarak told his people in a televised address Tuesday night, adding, “My first responsibility now is to restore the security of the homeland, to achieve a peaceful transition of power in an environment that will protect Egypt and Egyptians and which will allow for the responsibility to be given to whoever the people elect in the forthcoming elections.”
He also added that he would spend his last few months ordering his censorship authorities to lead a comprehensive “investigation” throughout the country into those radical and secret forces whom he believes are behind this all for private gain. In other words, he plans on leaving with his jails filled. This guy really knows how to address his specific audience of angry people protesting exactly those tactics, doesn’t he?
He will die in Egypt, he declared, without specifying how.
After the speech, CNN was happily reporting about what it termed the “roars” of the Cairo protesters, approving of this momentous occasion and their impending liberation. But after about 20 minutes, one of the CNN anchors noticed that maybe those sounds were the word “LEAVE!” being shouted with great vigor, instead. “It may be that they are not cheering,” the perplexed co-anchor realized.
So will this be good enough for the protesters? Absolutely not. (And it’s definitely not enough for many white Westerners typing on Twitter from thousands of miles away.) The protesters are demanding his immediate resignation and regime change, out of the (not hard to imagine) belief that he’ll find a way to put one of his cronies in the exact same autocratic role following September’s elections. But the concession today may be just enough to start a process of fizzling out the daily protests, assuming Mubarak minds his manners. Transferring power overnight after a decades-long authoritarian regime and expecting happy and free democracy the next day doesn’t have a long record of ever happening in history. But they’ll figure something out, we guess.
Watch Mubarak yourself below.