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Hosni Mubarak to quit the presidency, after Obama message

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said Tuesday he would quit the presidency at the end of his term in September, a decision reportedly urged by President Barack Obama.

Hosni Mubarak effigy
An effigy of President Hosni Mubarak hangs from a lamp post in Tahrir Square on Feb. 1, 2011 in Cairo, Egypt. Mubarak announced he will quit the presidency but not the country in September. (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said Tuesday he would quit the presidency at the end of his term in September, a decision reportedly urged by President Barack Obama.

"The Hosni Mubarak who speaks to you today is proud of his achievements over the years in serving Egypt and its people," he said in an address broadcast on state television, adding that he would not leave Egypt after the September elections.

"This is my country. This is where I lived, I fought and defended its land, sovereignty and interests, and I will die on its soil," he said.

Mubarak also pledged to implement a series of reforms, including calling on the judiciary to combat corruption, one of the complaints of protesters who have pushed him to announce an end to his presidency later this year.

Several media were reporting the story behind the Mubarak speech: that a U.S. envoy sent by Obama urged Mubarak to announce that he would not run for re-election in September.

The New York Times reported that former U.S. ambassador Frank Wisner conveyed a message that Mubarak should not run for another term.

The move signaled a major shift in U.S. foreign policy regarding Egypt, the main Arab ally of the United States and a vital partner in the Middle East peace process because of its 1978 treaty with Israel.

U.S. officials confirmed to Reuters that Wisner met with Mubarak and delivered a message about the need to prepare for an "orderly transition."

As protests across Egypt drew hundreds of thousands of people demanding Mubarak immediately leave office, the words from the envoy marked a shift for the United States as it moved further to distance itself from its longtime ally.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/cairo-protests/110201/hosni-mubarak-quit-the-presidency-after-obama-message