Mubarak Asks Cabinet to Resign amid Protests

Egyptian President CBS

Last Updated 5:38 p.m. ET

CAIRO - In a press conference late Fri., Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak says he will work towards resolving the problems that caused the massive unrest in Egypt and that he will designate a new government Sat.

Embattled President Mubarak says he has asked his Cabinet to resign in his first appearance on television since protests erupted demanding his ouster.

He says he will press ahead with social, economic and political reforms. He calls anti-government protests part of plot to destabilize Egypt and destroy the legitimacy of his regime.

He is defending security forces' crackdown on protesters.

Earlier, Egypt's military had been deployed throughout the country to help police struggling to put down massive protests against President Mubarak's 30-year reign.

This is the first time the military has become involved in demonstrations that began Tuesday and have continuously raged in Cairo, Suez and Alexandria.

The ruling party headquarters in Cairo went up in flames apparently set by enraged protesters demanding Mubarak's ouster. The headquarters is next to the National Museum, home to some of world's oldest cultural treasures, and authorities are concerned about securing them.

Thousands stayed on the streets into the night in Cairo and Suez despite the government opposing an official curfew at dusk for the entire country.

Al-Jazeera English reports that the curfew is being ignored.

As many as 10 protestors may have been killed and more than 1,000 wounded Friday, bringing the death toll of police and protestors to around 17 since clashes began throughout the country on Tuesday.

The sustained and intensifying demonstrations raised serious questions about whether Mubarak can keep his grip on power.

Egypt is Washington's closest Arab ally, but Mubarak may be losing U.S. support.

In the strongest sign yet that the violent suppression of the largest anti-government protests in decades is costing Egypt the support of its key ally in Washington, the U.S. demanded an end to the crackdown and an administration official said America will review its stand on providing aid to Egypt based on unfolding events.

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In one of many astonishing scenes Friday, thousands of anti-government protesters wielding rocks, glass and sticks chased hundreds of riot police away from the main square in downtown Cairo and several of the policemen stripped off their uniforms and badges and joined the demonstrators.

An Associated Press reporter saw the protesters cheering the police who joined them and hoisting them on their shoulders in one of the many dramatic and chaotic scenes across Egypt on Friday.

"I can't believe our own police, our own government would keep beating up on us like this," said Cairo protester Ahmad Salah, 26. "I've been here for hours and gassed and keep going forward, and they keep gassing us, and I will keep going forward. This is a cowardly government and it has to fall. We're going to make sure of it."

Amid the unrest, Egyptian security officials said police have put Nobel Peace laureate and opposition figurehead Mohamed ElBaradei under house arrest. Police stationed outside his suburban Cairo home told him he cannot leave the house after he joined protesters in the capital Friday.

While ElBaradei may represent longtime opposition to President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year authoritarian reign, the protestors appear to be currently led by no individual or group, especially in the face of a nationwide communication blackout, an eyewitness reports.

Internet and cell phones were blocked throughout the country early in the morning, reports eyewitness Alex Ortiz. As a result, word of mouth has brought people of all ages and walks of life into the streets to protest Mubarak's rule.

Large groups of protesters gathered in at least six venues in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, a city of about 18 million people, and many of them were on the move marching toward major squares and across Nile bridges.

The protests largely began with small groups of demonstrators outside various mosques throughout Cairo following Friday morning prayers, Ortiz said. The many small protests soon converged and made their way downtown.

By the end of the day, demonstrators had succeeded in driving police from Tharir Square in central Cairo, close to many government ministries and the site of the outbreak of demonstrations on Tuesday. Some even tried storming the Foreign Ministry and state TV station.



They are demanding Mubarak's ouster and venting their rage at years of government neglect of rampant poverty, unemployment and rising food prices.

Mubarak assured the people of Egypt that he will address their concerns in a press conference late Friday, saying, "I will always be taking the side of the poor people of Egypt."

"I am with bettering the economy," maintained Mubarak. "Our program to fight and to open more job opportunities and education for youth and citizens is the best thing to protect Egypt.

Data services were disrupted across Egypt as authorities used extreme measures to try and hamper the protesters from organizing the type of mass rallies that have been seen all week - an unprecedented outpouring of public anger against President Hosni Mubarak, who has led the nation for more than 30 years.

CNET.com reports the Internet-monitoring firm Renesys observed "the virtually simultaneous withdrawal of all routes to Egyptian networks in the Internet's global routing table."

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Egyptians outside the country were posting updates on Twitter after getting information in voice calls from people inside the country. Many urged their friends to keep up the flow of information over the phones.

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The anger behind this uprising is about many things: abuse, corruption and freedom of expression, but above all, it's about unemployment and the price of food, which has skyrocketed in a country where almost half the population lives on less than $2 a day, CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer reports from Cairo.

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There were also clashes in several other major Egyptian cities, including the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria, Minya, Suez and Assiut south of Cairo, and al-Arish in the Sinai Peninsula.

The demonstrations are backed by both the country's biggest opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, and newly returned Nobel Peace laureate ElBaradei.

A Facebook page run by protesters demanded of President Mubarak that he: declare that neither he nor his son will stand for next presidential elections; dissolve the parliament and hold new elections; end emergency laws giving police extensive powers of arrest and detention; release all prisoners including protesters and those who have been in jail for years without charge or trial; and immediately fire the interior minister.
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