Pro-democracy protesters in Egypt are calling for "millions" to take to the streets across the country in what could become the largest protests so far, a day after President Hosni Mubarak repeated his refusal to step down.
Massive crowds gathered in Tahrir Square ahead of Friday prayers, chanting "the army and the people are one, hand in hand". The demonstrators’ hopes for the president's resignation were dashed on Thursday as Mubarak, in a 17-minute address on television, said he was determined to stay in power until September, when his current term ends.
Mubarak said he was handing "the functions of the president" to Vice-President Omar Suleiman and that he would oversee an "exit" from the current crisis, and "realise the demands voiced by the youth and citizens ... without undermining the constitution in a manner that ensures the stability of our society".
Before he finished his anticlimactic speech, protesters camped in Tahrir Square, the epicentre of Egypt’s revolution, shouted "donkey, leave!" Rabab Al Mahdi, a professor at the American University in Cairo, told Al Jazeera that the level of anger and frustration at the square was "unprecedented". "This is putting us into a messy situation that can turn bloody at any moment," she said, adding that the fact that Mubarak "for more than 10 minutes, was talking about himself - very narcissistic, again, giving the message that he's still in control, and this, in and by itself, offended people."
Egyptian state television did not broadcast the scenes of anger after Mubarak's speech.