(Reuters) - Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak, responding to huge popular protests demanding the end of his 30-year rule, said on Tuesday he would not seek re-election in a ballot scheduled for September but would stay in office until then to respond to demands for reform.
Following are analysts’ views on the president’s announcement.
DAVID MAKOVSKY, MIDEAST ANALYST, WASHINGTON INSTITUTE FOR NEAR EAST POLICY
“All eyes are going to be looking at the military, how they’re going to manage the transition. Will they have an inclusive dialogue as promised? ... the U.S. is well positioned to help because it has decades of good relations with the Egyptian military.”
“It’s too soon to know how this will unfold. We have seen revolution start one way in the Middle East and end very differently, whether in Iran or Lebanon ... We won’t know perhaps for a long time how this turns out.”
ELLIOT ABRAMS, FORMER DEPUTY U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER
“It won’t work. This just really won’t work,” he told CNN.
“I can’t see anybody in Tahrir Square accepting that he will be president for eight more months and that he would, after 30 years, be trusted to be the man in charge of the democratic transition. Why would anyone believe that?”
FAYSAL ITANI, DEPUTY HEAD OF MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA FORECASTING, EXCLUSIVE ANALYSIS
“It’s not enough. The man is very stubborn. He’s clinging on to everything he can.”
“The longer this goes on, the more people will associate the military top brass with Mubarak. That is very dangerous.”
“The risk then grows that you have a low-ranking officers’ coup.
“It will put enormous strain on the security services. Meanwhile, the people taking over security on the ground are the Muslim Brotherhood, distributing wheat, setting up people’s protection groups.”
“The protesters are not going to go anywhere. I mean they go home to eat, but they’ll come back.”
KAMRAN BOKHARI, HEAD OF MIDDLE EAST ANALYSIS, POLITICAL RISK CONSULTANCY STRATFOR
“It’s huge. It will send shockwaves across the region. It’s not that I would necessarily say there’s going to be a domino effect, but I think we will see an increase in protest and governments will certainly be worried. It is a tectonic shift.”
“I don’t think it will be enough for the protesters. I think they think they just need to push a bit more and he will be gone completely. If he stays until September, that will give the regime a chance to reorganise and I don’t think the protesters will want that. I think they will be back out on the streets tomorrow.”
“Then the most likely scenario would be the military would have to force Mubarak out. Then we would have to have an interim government — and creating that will be a can of worms. Then you would have elections. It’s quite possible the Muslim Brotherhood would perform well, but the military will also want to have a role. Putting all those moving parts together will be very difficult.”
STEPHEN COHEN, PRESIDENT, INSTITUTE FOR MIDDLE EAST PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT
“He acknowledged this time that he is part of the issue. He didn’t pretend that he isn’t. He accepted that is not going to be president for long ... that’s better than where he was before. But I don’t think its the end of the story.”
“The main issue is what he said: he couldn’t get a meeting with all of the opposition because the Muslim Brotherhood would not accept to go to a meeting with (Vice President Omar) Suleiman until their basic demands were met. That question is still open, and the question is how are the opposition going to handle it. Mubarak is not going to leave office to give the country over to fundamentalists ... He will not walk away to give them the power.”
“I don’t think they (protesters) will be satisfied ultimately ... but right now they are responding as they should. They have made first stage victory.”
“The fact that he didn’t mention (the State of Emergency) means that he is keeping it. And the state of emergency is not an acceptable part of the future of Egypt.”
DIAA RASHWAN, POLITICAL ANALYST, AL AHRAM CENTRE FOR POLITICAL AND STRATEGIC STUDIES
“Mubarak’s speech will not appease the Egyptian people. The speech does indeed include all of the concessions, such as not running for presidential election for a sixth term, and also the constitutional amendments of articles 76 and 77. However, Mubarak has not dissolved parliament, which the people say does not represent them. “His speech on the whole does not ensure a peaceful transition of power. “The speech reflected Mubarak’s stubbornness and his persistence to continue. There is an obvious rejection from the people of him continuing. However, he was trying to appeal to their emotions, that is what the speech as about, telling them he served his country for 30 years, and he is a son of the nation.
JOHN BRIGGS, U.S. INTEREST-RATE STRATEGIST, RBS SECURITIES, STAMFORD, CONNECTICUT
“One question is going to be opposition reaction. It’s something the Treasury market is most certainly going to be paying attention to, but I’m not really sure how to handicap it.
A lot of the risk that was embedded on Friday when these protests really started to exploded has been removed. If it re-emerges, I think you could get another flight to quality.”
MICHAEL WOOLFOLK, SENIOR CURRENCY STRATEGIST, BNY MELLON, NEW YORK
“It’s positive. Markets were anticipating it. It may very well be that he steps down before the end of his term. Markets will interpret this announcement as positive for the country and region and positive for risk appetite.
ROBBERT VAN BATENBURG, HEAD OF GLOBAL RESEARCH, LOUIS CAPITAL MARKETS, NEW YORK
“With the momentum going on in the last eight days, the crowd there may not happy with this speech.
The (stock) market may see this as a moment of stability and may act positively on it. This may be the quiet before the storm. I have a suspicion that some are underestimating how much the crowd wants change. I don’t see this as a closure to the issue.
I don’t expect strength in the dollar even if the Egypt situation deteriorates. The oil market may be a better indicator of the perception on the risk in Egypt.
The bond market is dealing with the extreme steepness between short and long-dated yields. Nothing will really change that dynamic.”
reporting by Marwa Awad, Peter Apps, William Maclean, Andrew Quinn, Matt Spetalnick and Reuters bureaux; editing by David Stamp