Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Thursday rejected calls for his immediate resignation and said President Obama doesn’t understand the “chaos” that would result if he stepped aside now.
Mubarak seemed to reject President Obama’s demand that a transition in government in Egypt begin “now,” as the past week’s protests in that country turned violent in the last 48 hours, with pro-Mubarak forces clashing with anti-government activists. Several have been killed and hundreds wounded.
“If I resign today, there will be chaos,” Mubarak told ABC’s Christiane Amanpour in Cairo.
The violent attacks have spurred speculation that Mubarak may look to hold on to power, despite his pledge to step down. The Egyptian president said he communicated to Obama, though, that if he were to step down, a vacuum would emerge in Egypt’s political leadership.
Mubarak said he told Obama that he didn’t “understand the Egyptian culture and what would happen if I step down now.”
Mubarak has been under intense pressure from the White House and a growing, bipartisan chorus in Congress to leave office immediately. After speaking with Obama on Monday, the Egyptian leader said he would step down, but not until after a successor can be chosen in elections scheduled for September.
Mubarak’s pledge didn’t do much to disperse detractors from the streets of Cairo, and on Wednesday, the protests turned violent after armed pro-Mubarak forces joined the fray.
“I was very unhappy about yesterday. I do not want to see Egyptians fighting each other,” Mubarak said of those fights.