President Hosni Mubarak said on Thursday he wanted to quit but that he feared his resignation would bring chaos to Egypt, as protesters demanding an end to his 30-year rule confronted his supporters on Cairo streets.
Mubarak’s government has struggled to regain control of an angry nation, inviting Islamist opponents to talks and apologizing for bloodshed in Cairo that left 10 people dead.
A bitter and bloody confrontation gripped central Cairo where armed government loyalists fought pro-democracy demonstrators intent on Mubarak, 82, stepping down.
In a move to try to calm the disorder, Vice President Omar Suleiman said on Thursday the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s most organized opposition movement, had been invited to meet with the new government as part of a national dialogue with all parties.
An offer to talk to the banned group would have been unthinkable before protests erupted on Jan. 25, indicating the giant strides made by the reformist movement. But sensing victory, they have refused negotiations for now.
The overture came after new Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq apologized for the violence and the breakdown in law and order. “I thought it was necessary for me to apologize and to say that this matter will not be repeated,” the prime minister said.