It was certainly not what the Egyptian protesters wanted to hear on their 17th day in Cairo, but President Hosni Mubarak has said that he will hand off some responsibilities to his vice president, but will not be stepping down, and will not be leaving Egypt.

CAIRO — Egypt's Hosni Mubarak said he had handed some powers to his vice president Thursday, but refused to step down or leave the country, prompting a key opposition figure to warn: "Egypt will explode."

Stunned protesters in central Cairo who demanded Mubarak's ouster waved their shoes in contempt and shouted, "Leave, leave, leave." Others wept, while some watched in shocked silence.

Opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei turned to Twitter and denounced Mubarak's speech. "Egypt will explode. Army must save the country now," ElBaradei tweeted.

In Mubarak's televised speech, translated by NBC News, the embattled leader said he was addressing Egypt's youth, acknowledging the honesty of the demands of the protesters and their intentions.

"By confirming the needs of the people, and by putting Egypt first, I will dissolve the upper levels of government effective immediately and hand my power over to my vice president," Mubarak said, according to the NBC translation. "This is a major moment of change."

But Mubarak said he was not leaving Egypt, and said he "cannot and will not accept to be dictated orders from outside" and would remain until elections in September. He had already announced that he would not seek re-election.

"I will not separate from Egyptian soil until I am buried underneath," Mubarak said.

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