President Mubarak 'Won't Bow To Foreign Pressure'

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has announced he would hand over some powers to the vice president. But he said to step down from the presidency, would be giving in to foreign pressure.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

We are, of course, following developments throughout the morning in Egypt. Protesters today, we're hearing from our correspondents, are stunned but also spreading their protests, moving beyond Tahrir Square to the main television building, the state television building in Cairo. And as we wait for developments, let's review the speech that stunned Egyptians yesterday.

President Hosni Mubarak did say that he would hand over some powers to his new vice president, but insisted he would not be stepping down from the presidency now or leaving Egypt.

President HOSNI MUBARAK: (Through translator) I will not separate from the soil until I'm buried underneath.

INSKEEP: That's Mubarak speaking through an interpreter. He intends to remain president, he says, until elections in September. Mubarak said that stepping down now would be bowing to foreign pressure.

Pres. MUBARAK: (Through translator) I cannot and will not accept to be dictated orders from outside, no matter what the source is and no matter what the excuses or justifications are.

INSKEEP: President Mubarak also said that if conditions allowed, he would put an end to the emergency law, which has been in effect in Egypt for decades with only the briefest of interruptions. That law prevents gatherings of more than a few people, it allows criminal suspects to be held indefinitely without trial.

By the way, Egypt's military put out a communique today making the same promise, effectively saying that the emergency law would end after the protesters go home. We should point out, though, that Mubarak pledged to end the emergency law in 2006 and later renewed it.

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INSKEEP: We'll continue following this story throughout the morning and throughout the day. You'll hear the latest right here on MORNING EDITION from NPR News.

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