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Egypt

Fervour across Egypt as President Mubarak steps down

Reuters

There were scenes of ecstasy and triumph in Egypt’s Tahrir Square as President Hosni Mubarak handed the reins of power to the country’s Supreme Council for the Armed Forces.► We'll look after reform, Egyptian army tells protestersEgyptians prepare to unleash day of anger on defiant MubarakProtesters shocked by Mubarak's television address

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It was left to Vice President Omar Suleiman to announce the 82-year-old autocrat’s departure, which he did on state television.

Dossier: Revolution in Egypt

"Taking into consideration the difficult circumstances the country is going through, President Mohammed Hosni Mubarak has decided to leave the post of president of the republic and has tasked the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to manage the state's affairs," Suleiman said.

The top figure in Egypt's new military regime, defence minister Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, drove past Mubarak's former palace and saluted cheering crowds.

As news spread, cries of "Allahu Akbar" (God is greatest!) and howls of victory rang out in the streets of the capital, where more than a million demonstrators have staged two weeks of protests.

There were reports that several protesters fainted with emotion at the news.

Earlier Friday, Mubarak had flown out of Cairo to his holiday retreat at Sharm el-Sheikh on the Red Sea.

In a show of solidarity in at least lower levels of the army, three Egyptian officers shed their weapons and uniforms and joined the protesters.

On Thursday night, hundreds of thousands had crowded into Tahrir Square to hear a speech that was widely expected to be Mubarak's last as president.

Instead, he delegated some powers to Suleiman, while vowing he would stay in office until September.

Egypt's powerful Islamist opposition group the Muslim Brotherhood hailed Mubarak's resignation and "thanked the army, which kept its promises".

Meanwhile Tunisians danced in the street and blared their horns to celebrate the news - which comes only four weeks after their own ruler, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, was ousted.

The world reacts

  • US President Barack Obama said the people of Egypt had spoken after history moved at a "blinding pace". He called on the military to ensure a transition towards "genuine democracy".
    Swiss government ordered an immediate freeze on Mubarakassets.
  • Turkey's foreign minister congratulated the Egyptian people, saying he hoped
    a new system would soon emerge.
  • Lebanon's Hezbollah congratulated Egyptians on a "historic victory".
  • Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, hailed Mubarak's resignation as "the start of the victory of the Egyptian revolution".
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Egypt to respect its 1979 peace treaty with Israel.
  • British Prime Minister David Cameron said Egypt must "move towards civilian and democratic rule".
  • Qatar described the transition of power to the military as "positive and important".
  • South Africa President Jacob Zuma said Mubarak had "thought like a leader" and made the right choice to step down.

 

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