After eight days of intensive protesting throughout Cairo, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak announced Tuesday that he will not run for another term in the fall. Mubarak has led Egypt with an iron fist for over 30 years.
Mubarak’s decision came after U.S. President Barack Obama urged him to not seek another term in office, according to The New York Times. Images of hundreds of thousands of protestors showed unanimous disapproval after Mubarak refused to step down immediately. The Times reports that protestors will continue demonstrating until the president steps down.
Protests started on Jan. 25, after Tunisians successfully led a revolution to overthrown their dictatorship. Thousands of protestors took to the Egyptian streets to protest increasing poverty, the rising costs of food and corruption in government. Since then, protests for democracy have popped up in Jordan, Algeria and Yemen.
Protests continued, even as the Egyptian government shut down the Internet and phone service. On Friday, Mubarak announced that he would form a new government to appease the protestors—a move that was met with more protestors that reached the millions.
Protestors have defied curfews, clashed with the military and swarmed downtown Cairo for days on end. According to the Los Angeles Times, as many as 300 people have been killed by the police and military in protests.
The White House has been hesitant to outright call for Mubarak to step down. On Sunday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for a peaceful transition to democracy. That same day, the U.S. embassy in Cairo urged all Americans living in Egypt to leave immediately. After the announcement, the U.S. government organized chartered planes to depart to Europe.
For decades, Egypt has been America’s strongest ally in the Arab world. With Mubarak on his way out of power, some analysts are concerned about the future of Egyptian-U.S. relations. Additionally, Israel has been uneasy with the latest instability, as Egypt has had a cold yet peaceful relationship with Jewish state for several years.