President of Egypt Hosni Mubarak appeared on television late Friday for the first time since riots began in Cairo, saying in a televised address that the country was in a “defining moment” and that he had requested that his cabinet resign so a new one can be designated tomorrow.
He warned against chaos and lawlessness, saying change could only be achieved through dialogue, in an address delivered on Egyptian television. He said he regretted the casualties of innocent protesters, that he was aware of people’s suffering and was on the side of the poor.
The speech comes as demonstrators in Cairo have defied a curfew to protest in the streets and have reportedly engaged in clashes with police and security forces.
The Associated Press has reported that protesters have entered and are occupying the government's Foreign Ministry building.
Meanwhile, in response to the gathering storm of protests and violence in Egypt, U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton said she is “deeply concerned” about the crisis. She urged both sides of the conflict to exercise caution and restraint.
Anti-government demonstrations have swept across Egypt despite a 6 am-7 pm curfew imposed by the state and a vow by President Hosni Mubarak to get tough with protesters demanding his ouster.
Following midday prayers, tens of thousands of Egyptians fanned out across streets in Cairo, Suez and Alexandria and other cities, resulting in some cases in violent clashes with policemen. Security forces have reportedly fired rubber bullets and teargas at protesters.
Mohamed ElBaradei, the former head of the United Nations' nuclear watchdog and an opposition leader in Egypt, returned to his native homeland yesterday, but was placed under house arrest at his home on the outskirts of Cairo.
Upon arrival in Egypt yesterday, ElBaradei told reporters it is a critical time in the life of Egypt. I wish we didn't have to go into the streets to impress upon the regime that they have to change.