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Mubarak Will Not Step Down, Passes Some Power to VP

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In an address delivered on state television Thursday, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak rebuffed rumors that he would relinquish his power and step down from office. Instead, Mubarak insisted he would continue to serve out his term until the election this fall, reaffirming his pledge not to seek re-election at that time.

In the meantime, Mubarak pledged to transfer some of his presidential powers to Vice President Omar Suleiman. In the future, Mubarak also said the Egyptian military will ensure the peaceful transfer of power.

The embattled Egyptian president also seemed to deliver a direct, defiant message to the international community, saying he would "not accept foreign interventions."

His remarks were largely aimed at the youth of Egypt who have only known one leader during their lifetimes. The "blood of your martyrs will not be wasted," Mubarak insisted. "I will not be easy in punishing the people who have caused these injuries and I will hold accountable all the people who committed crimes against you." To date, the United Nations estimates that 300 people have died in the unrest.

Mubarak also announced the formation of a committee that will study amendments to the Constitution, and another that will be responsible for the implementation of the commitments made by the president to the people. He also announced that a number of constitutional items have been amended to protect the rights to free assembly and speech.

"I announce in very plain, unequivocal words that I will not run in the coming presidential elections, satisfied with what I have offered to the nation for 60 years, in time of war and peace. I announce that I will adhere to this position and similarly remain adamant to shoulder my responsibility, protecting the constitution, safeguarding the interests of the people until the authority and power is handed over to the person who will be elected in fair and free elections."

Protesters gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square continued to demand Mubarak's immediate resignation, chanting "Leave, leave, leave!"

Bolstered by early reports that Mubarak might announce his resignation Thursday, U.S. President Barack Obama welcomed the move, announcing that the world was "witnessing history."

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