Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak — the object of eight days of intense protests — confirmed on Tuesday that he will not run in the September presidential election.
"I did not intend to run for the coming presidency," Mubarak said. "I have exhausted my life serving Egypt and its people."
Mubarak said he would work over the remaining months of his term to guarantee a peaceful transition of power.
Mubarak, who has ruled Egypt tightly for almost 30 years, also said he would not leave the country.
"This dear nation … is where I lived, I fought for it and defended its soil, sovereignty and interests," he said. "On its soil, I will die. History will judge me like it did others."
As Mubarak's words echoed from speakers across the sea of demonstrators gathered in central Cairo's Tahrir Square, the protesters waved flags and chanted anti-government slogans as an indication the president's pledges were not enough to appease their rage, according to reports and television images from the scene.
Protesters were reported to be chanting: "Leave! Leave!" after Mubarak's speech. Some people booed and waved shoes over their heads — a sign of contempt.
Mubarak's statement on national television came after an estimated 250,000 people held a peaceful "march of a million people" in Tahrir Square, demanding he end his authoritarian rule and step down.
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Egypt's last parliamentary elections were Nov. 28, 2010, with opposition candidates and parties claiming voting fraud and intimidation was widespread. The next presidential election is scheduled for September 2011.
Under pressure from the thousands of protesters on the streets, Mubarak also came under an international push to go.
U.S. President Barack Obama said he spoke with Mubarak following the Egyptian leader's speech.
"He recognized that the status quo is not sustainable, and that a change must take place," Obama said.
Obama added that an orderly transition must begin now, it must be peaceful and lead to free elections.
Earlier, the New York Times, citing U.S. diplomats in Cairo and Washington, reported that Obama told Mubarak he should not run in the next Egyptian vote.
The Times said the message to Mubarak, which effectively signalled the loss of U.S. support for its key Arab partner, was delivered by former diplomat Frank G. Wisner, who is a friend of the Egyptian president.
A U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Associated Press that Wisner told Mubarak it was the view of the U.S. "that his tenure as president is coming to close."
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement that Canada "reiterates its support for the Egyptian people as they transition to new leadership and a promising future."
"As Egypt moves towards new leadership, we encourage all parties to work together to ensure an orderly transition toward a free and vibrant society in which all Egyptians are able to enjoy these rights and freedoms, not a transition that leads to violence, instability and extremism," Harper said.
Mubarak, 82, has been president of Egypt since former leader Anwar Sadat was assassinated in October 1981.
An interview published last October in Egypt's national police officers' magazine quoted Mubarak as saying he recognized the importance of involving the "young generation" in politics. But he also declared that he would serve his six-year mandate after winning more than 88 per cent of the vote in 2005.