tv BBC World News PBS February 1, 2011 6:00pm-6:30pm PST
corporations. what can we do for you? >> and now bbc world news. >> after a week of protests, egypt president said he will step down but only after elections in september. >> my first responsibility right now is to regain calm and stability in our home country. that is to ensure peace and transition of leadership. >> many remain on the streets. some say that it is too little too late. president obama says he has begin -- he has spoken with the egyptian leader. >> what i indicated tonight to president barack, that an orderly transition must be meaningful, peaceful and it must begin now. >> as people power transforms
the landscape, many in the region brace themselves. hello and welcome. after 30 years of power, the egyptian president said he will not step down until the elections attempted murder. this statement came after hundreds of thousands of people -- the elections in september. this statement came after hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets. >> my first responsibility runout is to regain, instability in our home country.
>> however, there were signs that the gesture will the satisfy the international community or the opponents in egypt. his address was met with jeers from many. >> it is enough. it is enough pierre >> if we exit this, he would change a lot in the next few months. i would -- i do not want him anymore. >> leave. just leave. >> his announcement came after days of mass protests across egypt. it culminated on tuesday at an estimated 1 million people who converted. here is a look at today's momentous event. >> civilians and soldiers were hand in hand as they channeled the crowd through identity checks.
more and more, it looks as if they are on the same side. the plan was to put a million people onto the streets. in cairo, it is probably hundreds of thousands. more than the numbers is who they were big and old soldier with his uniform, supporters of the muslim brotherhood and secular young men who wanted to turn it into a party. a lot of people did not feel like dancing. he was one of the 300 estimated by the un to have been killed in the protest. >> they killed him. the police, they kill our kids. [sobs] ♪ they sang the national anthem.
they were patriotic ones and vitriolic ones about the president's. they called him a zionist and a collaborator with the americans. their message was very clear. they have to go. but they were not sure it was getting through. >> he is thinking, get me this guy. let's put him in dresden forever. how did it come about for an egyptian to be coming to say these things on tv. it is time now for us to come up and speak out. >> seven days ago, no one imagined a gathering like this would be possible. >> president mubarak has lost control of the capital city. the army is here to protect them and the people's grievances are
legitimate. a week ago, the president was still powerful in egypt. now he does not have many friends left. all kinds of egyptians have come to protest, but, once again, today, it felt a little more religious. many egyptians are pious muslims and political islam has deep roots here. friends, mubarak's especially israelis, they fear that a free election may win it for islam. >> we have the right to re-elect whoever we want. i do not think any to be worried. -- we have the right to elect whatever we want. i do not think they need to be worried. we have the right to elect whether we choose. >> some worry about the speed of change, predicting that the president would offer to go, not just -- just not immediately pierre >> he needs to announce
-- i am going to leave. i am going to leave. just leave my children i am asking for five more months. you waited 30 years. you can wait five more months. >> do you think people will accept that? >> this is the problem. i do not think the majority of people will except that. >> in the evening, there was still an optimistic glow. they may beginning to realize that overthrowing an authoritarian arab president is not that easy. >> earlier, president barack obama may statement from the white house. he said an orderly transition for free and fair elections must begin now. >> we have spoken out on behalf for the need for change. after his speech tonight, i spoke directly to president mubarak. he recognizes that the status
quo is not sustainable and that a change must take place. indeed, all of us were privileged to serve in positions of political power do so at the will of our people. through thousands of years, egypt has known many moments of transformation. the voices of the egyptian people tell us that this is one of those moments. this is one of those times. now, it is not the rule of any other country to determine egypt's leaders. only the egyptian people can do that. what is clear and what i indicated tonight to president mubarak, it is my belief that a peaceful transition must be meaningful and it must begin now. furthermore, the process must include a broad spectrum of egyptian voices and opposition parties. it should lead to elections that are free and fair. and it should result in a
government that is not only grounded in democratic principles, but is also responsive to the aspirations of the egyptian people. throughout this process, the united states will continue to expand the hand of partnership and friendship to egypt. we stand ready to provide any assistance that is necessary to help the egyptian people as they manage the aftermath of these protests. >> that was president obama. i spoke with steve kingston and i hinted that his statements did not go as far as to say as that president mubarak should step down. >> essentially, he got him to announce publicly that he will not seek reelection next year. but some here in washington are already wondering if that goes far enough or is something further required, particularly when they see those images of people still in the square, many hours after the president's remarks in the middle of the night in cairo.
it was a fairly balanced statement that we got from barack obama. on the one hand, he wants to see immediate action from president mubarak, peaceful change involving a range of voices, involving opposition parties in egypt. in the next breath, there was this kind of slightly in the sizable -- slightly indiscernible message to the egyptian people say i did t believe you will determine your own destiny and the people of egypt will find those answers. people wondered what he exactly means by that. does he encourage them to protest further and push for change? or is he saying to have faith in the process, in the transition, because i come as an outside observer, and the kind of character of this? >> president mubarak has been such a key ally and washington
and the united states are all about freedom of speech. it is very difficult for president obama to say the right thing. >> barack obama knows that president mubarak is quite angry. he feels a little cheated. it was a stiff conversation between the two of them. coming from press spokespeople and diplomats, you know that was a heated conversation. it is difficult for the americans. they do not want to be seen to interfere. they do not want to be seen to force the change of government. that would alarm other allies that have in the region. nor do they want to be seen to prop up somebody who many are calling a dictator. it is difficult. until now, the white house has watched, waited, and world with the situation as it has evolved. i suspect they will do that in the coming days.
>> let's crossover to egypt's second largest city, alexandria. mohammed, who do you think will take the place of president mubarak? >> i think the one and only one is someone who has a very good reputation and is one of the best politicians in the whole middle east. some have been taking kind of like those, asking who they will support, elbaradei and two other people? i think that are mostarma moussk about 30% of the vote.
the only one who did not understand the message was honsi mubarak himself. even president obama told him today that he must change and that he is acting as a fool. >> he says he will stay on until september and not seek reelection. that is a long time from now. what can happen in this time? >> the egyptian people think that, from alan -- from now and september -- even from now until march, it is a very long time. they think he will change something. as everyone can see, he says he is doing it for the sake of the egyptians. if he really thinks that, for the egyptian people and their own sick, he should go now. -- and their own sake, he should
go now. people are very frustrated. a lot of people think it is now or never. me, myself, as well. can you a imagine, you have a kid and you did not teach him how to be had for 30 years? then you expect him to behave. he got used to the corruption appeared he will stay corrupted -- he got used to the corruption. he will stay corrupted. if he did not go, we will let him go. we will make him go even if it costs us going to his own palace. everyone knows that he is an american -- everything he does belong to america appeared even barack obama said that he should go.
-- belongs to america. even barack obama said that he should go. is going.an economy he should do it right now because we will not wait one more day. >> that was from alexandria with a very clear message. thank you. joining me from washington state at the college of communication at washington state university and a former middle east correspondent, did you think that you would be seeing this happen? president mubarak says that he will basically step down in september pierre >> the speed with which this -- step down in
september. >> the speed with which this has spread out is just astounding. >> you describe it as a virus. what you think is behind the spread of information? >> it is media-driven there is a direct line between this revolt in -- is needed-driven. there is a direct line between this revolt in egypt and you have seen it taken place across the region through a different prism. 20 years ago, arabs would not necessarily have even known about the rebels in tunisia. >> we saw the egyptian authorities trying to curb the internet. it did not seem to stop or slow the yvette. >> you cannot put this genie back in the bottle. you cannot take a nation of 80 million people off of the grid these days. look at what has happened with aljazeera, the egyptians have tried to knock it off the satellite.
they have played a cat and mouse game people were watching -- and mouse game. people were watching on aljazeera in the square today. >> this can only get across the whole region. >> we can easily overstate the degree to which it will have an impact. clearly, the change of government in jordan today illustrates the fact that this is affecting the region. but that is not to say that we will see the dominoes fall in six weeks and have new government in syria, jordan, and yemen. that would be a great exact duration -- a great exaggeration. >> thank you. remember, you can follow the events in egypt and throughout the region at any time on our website.
you will find analysis and comments from our correspondent on the ground. of course, there is our interactive map that will link to the flash point across the country. before the president's address, georgia and the guys spent time with -- george spent time with the people in the square. >> they came from all over cairo, converging on liberation square, hoping it would live up to its name. some came from much further afield. >> he has just flown in to be here. why is it so important that you are here today? >> i want this to be what my brothers and sisters and all the people that have suffered during murbarak have wanted for 30 years. >> these voices have not always
been heard. we are all egyptians, she says, men, women, and children. we all represent the country equally. young and old, rich and poor, they were all here. even the children have a message for the president. go away, they shout. you get the sense of elation, se first time in 30 years or so. look at this. that is given as a gift to the soldiers down here you have a traditional sweet stand. this is part rebellion, but it is also part festival. this was a show of unity. they all want president mubarak to go, but some are more forgiving than others pierre >> thank -- than others. >> thank you. you are old now. leave us alone. >> whether they are christian or
muslim, they may agree on replacing the president, but it is not at all clear on what's they think should -- but it is not at all clear that they agree on what should come after. after a week of protests, egypt's president says he will step down, but only after elections in september. as tens of thousands remain on the streets, the opposition leader says he has not gone far enough. we can go live now to a british freelancer working and living in cairo. he has been following the events in the past few days. this is a remarkable event. what are people on the street saying and who do they see as the successor to president mubarak?
>> even as we speak now, there is a pro-mubarak march. they are very loud. there are not huge groups. this afternoon, i was speaking with some 20-year-olds at the demonstration. the name amamoussa popped up again and again. he cannot really declare his presidency. as the arab league secretary, his headquarters is just around the corner from the square. it would have been unthinkable to say that he would be challenging mubarak for the presidency. i think that the momentum will be going behind him. the question about elbaradei and
that he is not ever in egypt and he is too pro-american and suleyman tainted by his israeli ties and seen as an envoy for egypt. amamoussa is the man to watch. >> mubarak says he will give up this time in september. that is a long time. what do you think will happen between now and then? >> on very simple terms, investors who had taken all their money out last week will not come back until after the election. that is it the election goes well. the situation is too precarious. tourists, again, they probably will not want to risk it.
it could be devastating for the people working around the pyramids or around the luxor and the hotels. it will be terrible for them. i fear for a campaign of purges or punishment for people who have spoken against mubarak, lawyers, judges, activists, and even journalists may be expelled or incarcerated or tortured. i think this protest has been a knee-jerk reaction to a community uprising and it may have happened eight months too early. >> do you think, in that case, that this momentum, the process, of the people will get tired and there will be some kind of normality and they will go back to work and will, effectively,
all be over and not have the effect that the people would have hoped for? >> very much so. this is tied into the previous question. mubarak is still the president. he can do whatever he wants in the next seven months. he can stifle the people here by cutting off electricity and gas and water. these are extreme measures, but you cannot ever count them against a dictator. meanwhile, people are already talking about going back to work because they need money. those are the old ones. but the young are very passionate about ousting this leader. now they have had a taste of activism and they have come so close to extort three major concessions from mubarak.
i think they will continue, but a number people who gather may not be as great as last week. this friday will be the big test. you will see the protests and who is still there. that will be the call for activism from now on. >> allred, fascinating. that -- all right, fascinating. that is the latest from cairo. president mubarak says he will step down, but not until the end of his term. mr. mubarak said he would not stand in elections in september. he says that they have been manipulated by political forces and have endangered egyptian stability. many protesters gathered in the center of cairo.
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