Mubarak sacks cabinet and defends security role
29 January BBC
President Hosni Mubarak has defended the role of Egypt's security
forces in suppressing anti-government protests which have rocked the
country. Mr Mubarak also dismissed his government and said a new cabinet
would be announced on Saturday.
It was his first statement since the protests - in which at least 26
have died with hundreds injured - began.
Tens of thousands took part in protests in Cairo, Suez, Alexandria
and other cities. Protesters set fire to the headquarters of the
governing NDP party and besieged state TV and the foreign ministry.
At least 13 people were killed in Suez on Friday, while in Cairo,
five people died, according to medical sources.
That brings the death toll to at least 26 since the protests began on
"I have asked the government to present its resignation today," Mr
Mubarak said, adding that he would appoint a new government on Saturday.
He also said he understood the protesters' grievances but that a thin
line divided liberty from chaos and he would not allow Egypt to be
destabilised. In a televised address shortly after Mr Mubarak spoke, US
President Barack Obama said he had spoken at length with the Egyptian
president and urged him to turn "a moment of volatility" into "a moment
The BBC's Jon Leyne in Cairo says there had clearly been a lot of
discussion behind the scenes before Mr Mubarak spoke to the country. But
his comments will probably just provoke further unrest, says our
correspondent - the people on the streets will be both infuriated by his
accusations that they are seeking to destabilise the country and
inspired that, having wrung some concessions from him, they could yet
manage to oust him. After Mr Mubarak spoke, a sustained volley was heard
from central Cairo, which our correspondent said could have been either
tear gas or live fire.
The Reuters news agency later quoted witnesses as saying more than 20
military vehicles rolled in to central Tahrir Square shortly after
midnight, scattering protesters into the sidestreets.
After days of unrest, protests erupted again on Friday, as tens of
thousands of protesters across the country turned out after Friday
prayers shouting "Down, down with Mubarak" and, "The people want the
regime to fall".
The authorities announced a curfew from 1800 to 0700 local time
(1600-0500 GMT), but it was immediately and widely flouted. At several
locations, riot police responded by firing rubber bullets and tear gas,
and by using water cannon. The headquarters of the governing NDP party
was set ablaze, while protesters also besieged the state broadcaster and
the foreign ministry.
Internet and phone services - both mobile and landline - have been
severely disrupted, although protesters are using proxies to work around
The BBC said it would forcefully protest to the Egyptian authorities
after a reporter for BBC Arabic, Assad Sawey, arrested and beaten by
plainclothes policemen in Cairo. Mr Obama said he had told Mr Mubarak to
respect the rights of the Egyptian people and refrain from using
violence against peaceful protesters - but he said the protesters also
had a responsibility to express themselves peacefully.
He urged the Egyptian leader to take "concrete steps that advance the
rights of the Egyptian people" and deliver on the promises of reform in