"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica;">

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica;">CAIRO

(AP) — Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak announced he has handed his

powers over to his vice president but he refused to step down

outright or leave the country, retaining his title of president and

ensuring regime control over the reform process. Stunned protesters

in central Cairo who demand his ouster waved their shoes in

contempt and shouted, “Leave, leave, leave.”

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica;">The

crowd in Tahrir Square had swollen to several hundred thousand in

expectation that Mubarak would announce is resignation in the

nighttime address to the nation. Instead, they watched in silence,

slapping their foreheads in anger and disbelief. Some broke into

tears. After he finished, they broke out into chants for him to

go.

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica;">

Immediately after Mubarak’s speech, Vice President Omar Suleiman

called on the protesters to “go home” and asked Egyptians to “unite

and look to the future.”

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica;">The pair

of addresses followed a series of dramatic events Thursday evening

that had raised expectations Mubarak was about to announce his

resignation. In a surprise step, the military announced on state TV

that its Supreme Council was in permanent session in scenes that

suggested the armed forces were taking control, perhaps to ensure

Mubarak goes. The top general for the Cairo area told protesters in

the square that “all their demands” would be satisfied, and the

protesters lifted him on their shoulders, believing that meant

Mubarak’s ouster.

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica;">Instead,

Mubarak went on the air several hours later, delivering a firm

15-minute address that suggested little has changed. Suleiman was

already leading the regime’s efforts to deal with the crisis, but

the announcement gives him official authorities.

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica;">“I saw

fit to delegate the authorities of the president to the vice

president, as dictated in the constitution,” Mubarak said near the

end of the speech. The constitution allows the president to

transfer his powers if he is unable to carry out his duties “due to

any temporary obstacle,” but it does not mean his resignation.

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica;">Mubarak

said he would stay in the country and that he is “adamant to

continue to shoulder my responsibility to protect the constituion

and safeguard the interests of the people ... until power is handed

over to those elected in September by the people in free and fair

elections in which all the guarantees of transparencies will be

secured.”

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica;">Mubarak

said that the demands of protesters for democracy are just and

legitimate, but he adhered tightly to a framework for reform that

Suleiman drew up and that protesters have roundly rejected, fearing

it will mean only cosmetic change.

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica;">He said

he had requested the amendment of five articles of the constitution

to loosen the now restrictive conditions on who can run for

president, to restore judicial supervision of elections, and to

impose term limits on the presidency.

"margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica;">He also

annulled a constitutional article that gives the president the

right to order a military trial for civilians accused of terrorism.

He said that step would “clear the way” for eventually scrapping a

hated emergency law that gives police virtually unlimited powers of

arrest, but with a major caveat — “once security and stability are

restored.”

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