Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak 311 AP.
(photo credit: AP / Egypt TV)
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak resigned his role as head of the country's ruling National Democratic Party against the backdrop of 12 days of protests throughout the country, Egyptian state television reported Saturday evening. Arabic-language television news network Al Arabiya, however, later retracted its report of Mubarak's resignation.
Minutes earlier, Egyptian state TV said the top leadership body of Egypt's ruling party, including the president's son Gamal Mubarak and the party secretary-general Safwat el-Sharif, resigned in a new gesture apparently aimed at convincing anti-government protesters that the regime is serious about reform.
Saturday afternoon, the head of the Egyptian army's central command spoke to protesters amassed in Cairo's Tahrir Square Saturday afternoon and urged them to leave the square, Al Jazeera reported.
According to the report, the anti-government protesters responded to General General Abdel Meneem Khalil with chants of: "We are not leaving, he [Mubarak] is leaving."
Protesters have shrugged off other concessions by the regime in the past
12 days of unprecedented street demonstrations, saying they will settle
for nothing less than the immediate ouster of Egyptian President Hosni
Mubarak, Egypt's ruler for nearly 30 years.
State TV said the ruling party's six-member Steering Committee of the
General Secretariat stepped down and was replaced. The council was the
party's highest decision-making body, and Sharif and other outgoing
members were some of the most powerful — and to many Egyptians,
unpopular — political figures in the regime.
Sharif was replaced by Hossam Badrawi, a party figure who had been
sidelined within its ranks in recent years because of his sharp
criticisms of some policies.
The new appointments to the body were largely young figures, one of the
replacements Mohammed Kamal told The Associated Press. "It's a good
change. It reflects the mood of change that is sweeping the country," he
Gamal Mubarak, who was a member of the Steering Committee, was widely
seen as being groomed by his father Hosni Mubarak to succeed him as
president. But Vice President Omar Suleiman promised earlier in the week
that Gamal would not run for president in elections due in September.
The younger Mubarak was also head of the party's powerful policies
committee, where for the past decade he led a campaign of economic
liberalization. State TV said Gamal was also removed from that post and
replaced by Badrawi.
The announcement was greeted with scorn by some of the tens of thousands
of protesters gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square. Wael Khalil, a
45-year-old activist, said it would "reinforce their (protesters')
resolve and increase their confidence because it shows that they are
winning, and the regime is retreating inch by inch."