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(Updated) Mubarak Orders Egyptian Government Officials to Step Down, He Will Stay

“I will not allow escalating violence.”

Embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak asked his cabinet officials to resign in a major televised announcement Friday. Mubarak proclaimed that he would appoint a new government on Saturday.

In addition, Mubarak promised to press ahead with social and political reforms and called the protests a deliberate attempt to destabilize the nation's government.

The Associated Press reports:

Embattled President Hosni Mubarak has appeared on television for the first time since protests erupted demanding his ouster, and he says he will press ahead with social, economic and political reforms.

He is defending security forces' crackdown on protesters.

Protesters have seized the streets of Cairo, battling police with stones and firebombs, burning down the ruling party headquarters, and defying a night curfew enforced by a military deployment. It is the peak of unrest posing the most dire threat to Mubarak in his three decades of authoritarian rule.

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UPDATE

Via The Atlantic, some key quotes from President Mubarak's televised remarks:

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, addressing Egyptian people over state TV, announced he was dissolving the Egyptian government and would be appointing a new cabinet. Oddly, Mubarak credited himself with the ongoing demonstrations, saying that he was personally responsible for reforms that made the protests possible. "I exhausted myself for the country," he said.

However, he warned protesters' aims "cannot be achieved through violence or chaos," adding, "I, as President of the Country will allow citizens to protest within the frontiers of the law. ... I will not be lax or tolerant, I will take all the steps to maintain the safety and security of all egyptians." He also promised to bring "more democracy, more freedoms for citizens" and to "raise the standard of living."

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