Mubarak has addressed the Egyptian people this evening, claiming that "violence and looting" had been generated by political forces taking advantage of the recent protests. He claimed to have "been moved" by the pain experienced by Egyptians, and offered the people a choice between "stability" and "chaos" whilst acknowledging a "new reality". His new government would have new priorities which would be responsive to the demands of young people, and he claimed that he was opening a dialogue with all new political parties over constitutional reform in order "to restore calm".
However, he castigated some unnamed political forces for refusing to enter into dialogue and appealed to "the people" to recognise the difficult conditions under which he came to the presidency. He claimed that he "would not betray what you have entrusted to me" (i.e. "calm and stability") and stated that he would oversee a transition, ensuring that the country remains stable, claiming that he had not intended to stand again for the presidency.
Mubarak stated that he would devote his remaining months in office to ensuring a peaceful transition and requested Parliament to modify Article 67 of the Constitution so that a limit would henceforth be defined for the presidential term. He also called upon the police to protect the freedom of the people, and for the judiciary to investigate all corruption charges as well as "who was behind the looting and the violence" of the recent protests.
What will the protesters make of this speech? Will they be satisfied to allow Mubarak to retain the reins of power until September this year? I doubt it. Furthermore, could not Mubarak's reference to prosecuting those whom he deemed to be "behind the looting and the violence" be used as a pretext for the arrest of many innocent protesters?