The Egyptian president has dismissed his government, saying that he will replace it with a new one on Saturday. "I have asked the government to resign and tomorrow there will be a new government," Hosni Mubarak said in an address to the nation late on Friday after four days of deadly protests. The president said that change can not be achieved through chaos but through dialogue.
Saying he understood that the people of Egypt wanted him to address poverty, employment and democratic reform, he promised to press ahead with social, economic and political reforms. "We will not backtrack on reforms. We will continue with new steps which will ensure the independence of the judiciary and its rulings, and more freedom for citizens," Mubarak said.
He said new steps will be taken "to contain unemployment, raise living standards, improve services and stand by the poor." Reacting to the protests that have erupted in the capital and other cities, Mubarak urged calm, adding that only because of his own reforms over the years, were people able to protest.
His words, however, are likely to be interpreted as an attempt to cling to power rather than take concrete steps to solve some of the more pressing problems facing many Egyptians, primarily unemployment and rapidly rising food prices. Al Jazeera's Ayman Mohyeldin, reporting from Cairo, said many Egyptians calling for change would say the sacking of the government is not enough.
"Ultimately in Egypt, the power lies with the president," he said. "On paper, you have an independent parliament and an independent judiciary but every Egyptian will tell you that at the end of the day, power is concentrated in the hands of the president.
"Very few institutions can challenge his authority so the sacking of the cabinet is not going to end the grievances of the people." A somber looking Mubarak called anti-government protests "part of a bigger plot to shake the stability and destroy legitimacy" of the political system.