Egypt’s Mubarak to Quit in September After Mass Rally

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said he won’t run for another term after hundreds of thousands of people rallied against his regime in Cairo’s Tahrir Square in the culmination of a weeklong uprising.

Mubarak said his 30-year rule will end with presidential elections that are due in September, in a statement on state television. He said he hadn’t intended to run for another term and will stay on until the ballot to ensure “stability,” adding that laws on the eligibility of candidates and presidential term limits will be revised before the vote.

The country “faces a choice between chaos and stability,” Mubarak said. He had previously declined to say whether he would stand again. Mubarak last week appointed Omar Suleiman, head of Egypt’s intelligence services, as his vice president.

The unprecedented protests, which followed a revolt in Tunisia that ousted President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali on Jan. 14, have left more than 100 people dead in Egypt and roiled international stock, bond and oil markets. Unrest has spread to Jordan, where King Abdullah sacked his prime minister today and other countries including Yemen and Algeria.

The opposition movement, which includes the Muslim Brotherhood and the former United Nations atomic agency chief Mohamed Elbaradei, accuses Mubarak of running a corrupt and repressive government. It has called on the president to quit immediately and hand power to a transitional government.

Banks, Internet Shut

Egypt is one of the biggest recipients of U.S. aid, receiving about $2 billion a year since 1979, when Egypt signed a peace treaty with Israel brokered by the U.S. Mubarak has backed efforts to encourage Arab acceptance of the Jewish state, oppose Iran’s nuclear program and isolate Hamas, the Islamist militant group that controls the Gaza Strip.

As Mubarak fought to retain power, his authorities shut down Egypt’s stock market, after a 16 percent slump in the benchmark index last week, its banking system and most phone and Internet communication. Companies including Heineken NV and BG Group Plc halted operations in the country of 80 million, and expatriates fled aboard scheduled flights, charters and private jets. Tanks guarded key government buildings as thousands rallied daily in Cairo and other cities.

Crude prices have jumped about 6 percent since Jan. 27 on concern the turmoil in Egypt may disrupt supplies. The Suez Canal in the country’s north carries about 8 percent of global maritime trade.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Jan. 30 that Mubarak must “respond to the legitimate requests for participation by protesters” by holding “free and fair elections.”