The New York Times is reporting that President Obama is urging Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to not seek re-election. According to unnamed sources cited by Arab TV outlet Al Arabiya, Mubarak will oblige the president and announce he will step away after his term expires in September:
President Obama has told the embattled president of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, that he should not run for another term in elections in the fall, effectively withdrawing American support for its closest Arab ally, according to American diplomats in Cairo and Washington.
Al Arabiya television, citing unnamed sources, reported that Mr. Mubarak would announce in a nationwide address Tuesday evening that he would not run for another term.
The message was conveyed to Mr. Mubarak by Frank G. Wisner, a seasoned former diplomat with deep ties to Egypt, these officials said. Mr. Wisner’s message, they said, was not a blunt demand for Mr. Mubarak to step aside now, but firm counsel that he should make way for a reform process that would culminate in free and fair elections in September to elect a new Egyptian leader.
This back channel message, authorized directly by Mr. Obama, would appear to tip the administration beyond the delicate balancing act it has performed in the last week — resisting calls for Mr. Mubarak to step down, even as it has called for an “orderly transition” to a more politically open Egypt.
If Mubarak does announce today that he is stepping aside but not for another seven months, it’s unclear if that will placate the thousands of protesters currently gathered in the heart of Cairo.
In a speech on Tuesday, Mubarak confirmed he would not seek re-election. The AP reports:
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak says he will not run for a new term in office in September elections and will work during the rest of his term for a “peaceful transfer of power” in a new attempt to defuse massive protests demanding his immediate ouster.
In a speech aired on state TV Tuesday night, Mubarak said, “In all sincerity, regardless of the current circumstances, I never intended to be a candidate for another term.”
He says he will work during “the final months of my current term” to carry out the “necceasary steps for the peaceful transfer of power.”