Announcing an end to a near 30-year reign in power, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak told the nation late Tuesday that he will not run for office in September.
The recorded statement on state television came after tens of thousands of Egyptians took to the streets nationwide in a peaceful demonstration demanding that Mr. Mubarak resign.
His decision, however, is not likely to quell demands from Egyptian protesters who want to see him leave office right away.
Before the speech, demonstrators chanted demands that Mr. Mubarak leave office by week’s end.
Key Players in Egypt’s Crisis
In Cairo, several hundred thousand people poured into Tahrir Square – a focal point of the peaceful protests.
Tens of thousands of people also joined rallies in Suez, Mansoura and the northern port city of Alexandria.
Protesters in the capital carried signs saying “Bye, bye Mubarak” and chanted “Take him with you” as helicopters flew overhead. Effigies of Mr. Mubarak hung from traffic lights.
Foreign media reports quote protest leaders as calling for Mr. Mubarak to leave by Friday.
Military forces are stationed throughout Cairo, but did not interfere with the rally crowds. The army announced earlier it recognizes the “legitimate demands” of the Egyptian people, and pledged not to fire on protesters.
Secular, liberal opposition activist Mohamed ElBaradei told Al Arabiya television Tuesday that Mr. Mubarak should leave by Friday in order for Egyptians to start a “new phase.”
Egypt’s powerful Muslim Brotherhood and the secular opposition agreed to have ElBaradei act as a lead spokesman for the country’s opposition groups.
An unprecedented Internet cutoff remains in place in Egypt Tuesday. But Google announced it has created a way for Twitter users to post to the micro-blogging site by dialing a phone number and leaving a voicemail.
At least 140 people died during protest violence last week. Mr. Mubarak on Monday replaced the widely reviled interior minister Habib Adly, who oversees the police and plainclothes domestic security forces.