Nobel Laureate and former IAEA head Mohammed El-Baradei spoke to throngs in Egypt's Tahrir Square earlier today, calling for Hosni Mubarak to step down as President of Egypt.
"Today, I have come to share with you the most beautiful day for Egypt," he told the demonstrators. "Today, I look into the eyes of each and every one of you. Each of us is a different Egyptian. Today, we are proud of Egyptians."
"We have restored our rights, restored our freedoms, and what we have begun cannot be reversed," ElBaradei continued.
"And as we mentioned before, we have a key demand, and that's for the regime to step down, and to start a new era," he concluded.
El Baradei returned to Egypt on January 25th, the same day protests began against the Egyptian government, and has been under house arrest since January 26th. Today was the first day he was seen in public.
Al Jazeera reports:
The protesters in Cairo, joined by hundreds of judges, had collected again in Tahrir Square in the afternoon to demand the resignation of Hosni Mubarak.
Al Jazeera's correspondent, reporting from the scene, said that demonstrators confronted a fire truck, at which point army troops fired into the air in a bid to disperse them.
He said the protesters did not move back, and a tank commander then ordered the fire truck to leave. When the truck moved away from the square, the thousands of protesters erupted into applause and climbed onto the tank in celebration, hugging soldiers.
Mubarak's regime is crumbling as it continues to lose support from the West. In a series of telephone calls this morning, President Obama called for an orderly transition from the Mubarak regime to a government elected through free and fair elections. This is not to say Mubarak is without support. The Saudi government has condemned the protests as being the work of "infiltrators".
However, the Saudi government has condemned the protests, saying many of them were "infiltrators" who seek to destabilise their country.
King Abdullah called Mubarak and, according to the Saudi Press Agency, "was reassured" about the situation in Egypt.
"During the call, the king said, ‘Egypt is a country of Arabism and Islam. No Arab and Muslim human being can bear that some infiltrators, in the name of freedom of expression, have infiltrated into the brotherly people of Egypt, to destabilise its security and stability and they have been exploited to spew out their hatred in destruction, intimidation, burning, looting and inciting a malicious sedition,’" the news agency said.
Saudi Arabia "strongly condemns" the protest, it said.
Despite the measured calls for reform, beginning with free and fair elections, it's clear that the people of Egypt are fighting for an end to the Mubarak regime, starting now. Ayman Nour, leader of the El-Ghad Liberal Party spoke on Al-Jazeera earlier today. These quotes from Nour from the Twitter stream of Sultan Al Qassemi, columnist for The National, who has been sending updates constantly since the protests began.
"We have formed an opposition committee for change that involves ten members, represented by El Baradei."
"Today was the first session of the People's Popular Parliament which includes El Baradei, Mohammed El Beltaji, myself.."
"(other members) Justice Mahmoud El Khodairi, George Ishaq, Mr Abu Al Ezz, it is a ten member committee."
"Our key demand is for Mubarak to step down, we will negotiate with the army, we will negotiate with other opposition members
We are not negotiating with Mubarak since our main demand is for him to step down. We will negotiate with the army.
"We are not asking for an (army) coup. We are asking the army to take the side of the people not the side of the tyrant"
"This govt has not communicated with the opposition party until the last minute, they will be forced to negotiate with us"
This committee will have the duty to manage the crisis. We will negotiate in order to improve the security conditions in the country"
We want all the resolutions issued by Mubarak since January to be revoked & invalidated" (doesn't say which date exactly).
The army's duty is to defend the country not the oppressor who has been ruling by an iron fist. All the rallies ask him to step down.
We ask the army not to play a political role. We ask it to defend & safeguard the security, stability of the country."
"People were wreaking havoc, chaos & looting around including the undercover police personnel. We have arrested many of them..& found that they were carrying police identity cards. They were looting around, intimidating people."
Therefore people are now adamant about toppling of the regime. We will negotiate a peaceful exit for Mubarak for the sake of Egypt.
Today will be a key day in these protests, because Mubarak has indicated the police will be on the streets tomorrow. If their previous behavior is any indication, there will be much more bloodshed than there has already.