Cairo, Egypt (CNN) — Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stubbornly clung to the presidency late Thursday night, refusing in a highly anticipated speech to step down by saying he does not take orders from anyone outside Egypt.
However, Mubarak said he would “delegate powers” to Vice President Omar Suleiman, according to the Constitution — a major concession from the man who has ruled Egypt with an iron fist for 30 years.
It was not enough for protesters in Tahrir Square.
“Get out! Get out!” they chanted angrily as Mubarak spoke. Demonstrators are demanding he step down immediately.
They watched his speech on screens hoisted above their heads up on the square. Quiet at first, protesters waited to hear what Mubarak would say. When it became clear he would not stand down, they erupted.
Hosni Mubarak: In his words “Illegitimate!” they cried. “Mubarak, the coward, must stand down!”
In his speech, Mubarak stressed — as he has before — he would not run for another term in September.
His comments came at the end of another long and tense day of protests in Egypt.
Rumors had run rampant before he spoke that Mubarak was planning to step down. Many also had predicted he would deputize Suleiman, the former intelligence chief, to take control. For that to happen under the current Constitution, Mubarak must retain the title of president — as he has.
Suleiman addressed the nation soon after Mubarak, urging Egyptians to remain calm and go back to work.
He said he was committed to doing “whatever it takes in order to have an orderly transition of powers in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.”
“Go back to your houses. Go back to your work. The homeland needs your work,” said Suleiman.