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Mubarak: I'd go now but I'm worried about Cairo chaos

Egypt’s president tells a US network that he fears the country could descend into chaos if he was to leave immediately.

Opponents and supporters of President Hosni Mubarak fire missiles at each other in Cairo yesterday.
Opponents and supporters of President Hosni Mubarak fire missiles at each other in Cairo yesterday.
Image: Lewis Whyld/PA Wire

EGYPT’S PRESIDENT has said he would be prepared to step down from power immediately, but fears that his country could “sink into chaos” if he was to leave office early.

In an exclusive interview with US network ABC last night – his first since announcing on Tuesday night that he would not seek re-election in September – Mubarak said he was anxious about the potential state his country could be left in if it suddenly found itself without a leader.

“After 62 years in public service he was tired, and he was fed up, and he would like to resign – but he couldn’t do it immediately because the country would fall into chaos, and the [opposition party] Muslim Brotherhood would take over,” his interviewer Christiane Amanour told the BBC.

He also denied suggestions that his party – or the country’s police force – was behind the recent violence on the country’s streets, amid speculation that pro-government protesters were posing as plain-clothes civilians to support the president.

Nonetheless, Mubarak said he “didn’t care” about the public’s attitude of him, but said he did not was “to see Egyptians fighting each other”, Haaretz added.

The interview came as anti-government protesters geared up for major new demonstrations on what is being dubbed ‘Departure Day’, intending on forcing Mubarak out of office by the end of the day.

AP reports that the Egyptian military were keeping guard as thousands poured into Cairo’s main square, while the country’s defence minister was also on site – a sign that the army was sanctioning the protest.

Protesters have said they wish to put the “last nail in the regime’s coffin” when demonstrations reach their peak, shortly after 10am Irish time (noon local time) after the main daily prayers.

Opponents of the president had chosen Friday as their main day of demonstration, as it is the Muslim Sabbath day and most are off work.

The United States, meanwhile, is understood to be preparing an ‘exit strategy’ for Mubarak, and would be prepared to allow his newly-appointed vice president Omar Suleiman to assume power before full elections are held in September.

The Daily Telegraph reports that the US plan would see the interim government co-operate with the Muslim Brotherhood and other main parties to reform the electoral and political system before the scheduled elections are held to appoint a new administration.

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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