President Obama: 'The Voices of the Egyptian People Must Be Heard'


Jubilation in Tahrir Square Turns to Anger

There were conflicting reports during the day about whether Mubarak, who has ruled for 30 years, would resign. Earlier today, an Egyptian army general waded into the jubilant crowd of protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square today and told them cryptically, "All your demands will be met tonight," leading the crowd to erupt into a roar of cheers.

When asked by ABC News whether that meant that Mubarak would leave office, Army Gen. Hassan al-Roueini only said, "It ends tonight."

Thousands of people streamed into the square in anticipation of witnessing history. Crowds say the national anthem, a sea of Egyptian flags waved and youths climbed upon light poles. Camera flashes sparkled through the crowd as demonstrators tried to capture what they expected to be a moment in history.

But the jubilation and celebration was quickly reduced to sullen anger and slumped shoulders.

In the United States, administration officials watched the crowd and later Mubarak's speech with apprehension. In brief remarks before Mubarak's speech, President Obama hailed the young people as a new generation "who want their voices to be heard."

"What is absolutely clear is that we are witnessing history unfold. It is a moment of transformation that is taking place because the people of Egypt are calling for change," Obama said.

Egypt's armed forces issued a statement broadcast earlier today on state radio, saying they will protect the people and will support the demands of the people. The state television reported that the council of armed forces met today to discuss the current situation, and resolved to convene regularly.

"We will ensure the protection of the people and that their legitimate demands are met," the army said.

Neither Mubarak nor Suleiman were present at the meeting.

The protests, in its 17th day, appeared to gain momentum early in the day as protesters and labor unions across the country went on strike today, adding more fuel to the revolutionary fire.

Factory workers, textile workers, laborers on the Suez Canal all stopped working. On Tahrir Square, doctors and bus drivers joined the protests today, in a sign of solidarity. The transport strike brought traffic in a city famous for its congestion, to a standstill.

Mubarak Doesn't Resign, Angering Protesters

Tanks surrounded key government buildings and federal employees were advised to stay at home.

In a move to appease protesters, the state prosecutor launched a corruption investigation against three former government ministers and a steel tycoon turned parliament member who was a key figure in Mubarak's ruling party, according to Egyptian state TV.

The embattled Egyptian government also announced the formation of a "fact-finding committee" on the "youth uprising" and that will investigate the "unfortunate events" that took place in Tahrir Square on Feb. 2, the day the square turned into a battleground between protesters and pro-Mubarak supporters. The government, however, didn't make it clear if they are investigating people on camel-backs who stormed the square, the protesters, or both.

ABC News' Andrew Morse, Jon Garcia, Aaron Katersky, Sunlen Miller and Ann Compton contributed to this report

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