In an exclusive interview with ABC’s Christiane Amanpour, Egypt’s beleaguered President Hosni Mubarak said he wished he could step down immediately, but that doing so would plunge the country into further chaos. Mubarak has addressed the nation twice during the last 10 days of protests, most recently on Tuesday when he announced he would not run in the upcoming September elections, but this has been his first interview since the protests began. His son Gamal, once considered to be his potential successor, was present during the interview.
Mubarak expressed fear that the Muslim Brotherhood would fill any political vacuum he left behind, and related a fear he had previously expressed to President Obama: “you don’t understand the Egyptian culture and what would happen if I step down now.” He denied that his government was behind the violence brought upon peaceful protestors in Tahrir square by pro-Mubarak ‘supporters,’ despite evidence that had ties to the government and security forces, and blamed the Muslim Brotherhood for the violence. Currently, Mubarak and his family are being kept in the presidential palace under heavy military guard, and he maintains that he “would never run away from this country.”
On the way to the interview, Amanpour was reportedly surrounded, threatened and interrogated by a group of pro-government supporters. Foreign journalists have become increasingly under threat since the clashes escalated on Tuesday, including one reporter who was threatened with beheading and whose car had been hijacked.