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Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak resigns

Last updated on: February 11, 2011 22:51 IST

Hosni Mubarak, who ruled Egypt with an iron hand for over three decades, stepped down as President on Friday evening and handed over power to the army capitulating under mass protests sweeping the country's streets for the last 18 days.

President Hosni Mubarak resigned and handed over power to the military, announced the recently appointed vice president Omar Sulaiman on state television.

Tahrir Square, the epicentre of the anti-government protests, erupted in joy with tens of thousands of people shouting 'Egypt is Free".

The end of the regime in the most populous Arab nation came a week after the protesters set a deadline of 'Departure Friday' for 82-year- old Mubarak to step down as President.

Suleiman said Mubarak had handed power to the high command of the armed forces. "In the name of God the merciful, the compassionate, citizens, during these very difficult circumstances Egypt is going through, President Hosni Mubarak has decided to step down from the office of president of the republic and has charged the high council of the armed forces to administer the affairs of the country."May God help everybody," he said. 

Mohamed ElBaradei, an opposition leader, hailed the moment as being the "greatest day of my life", he told AP. "The country has been liberated after decades of repression," he said. "I have waited, I have worked all my adult life to see the power of the people come to the fore and show itself. I am speechless."

Dina Magdi, a pro-democracy campaigner in Tahrir Square told Al Jazeera. "The moment is not only about Mubarak stepping down, it is also about people's power to bring about the change that no-one ... thought possible." In Alexandria, Egypt's second city, witnessed an "explosion of emotion" as hundreds of thousands were celebrating in the streets.

US President Obama said he was informed of Egyptian President's decision to step down during a meeting in the Oval Office. Obama then watched TV coverage of the scene in Cairo for several minutes. He will make an on-camera statement later today, CNN reported.

Egyptian protest leader Wael Ghonim, the Google executive who has become the cyber and real-life hero of the protest movement since he was released from a 12-day detention earlier this week, sent out a Twitter message saying "congratulations Egypt the criminal has left the palace."

Earlier, President Barack Obama asked for "concrete" change in Egypt, a staunch US ally, after Mubarak wrong-footed the world by clinging to power. Obama issued a strongly-worded statement after a day of drama in Egyptian capital Cairo in which hopes that embattled Mubarak would step down were replaced by fury as he only went as far as ceding some authority to Vice President Omar Suleiman.

"The Egyptian people have been told that there was a transition of authority, but it is not yet clear that this transition is immediate, meaningful or sufficient," Obama said. "Too many Egyptians remain unconvinced that the government is serious about a genuine transition to democracy, and it is the responsibility of the government to speak clearly to the Egyptian people and the world. The Egyptian government must put forward a credible, concrete and unequivocal path toward genuine democracy, and they have not yet seized that opportunity."

Besides the US, the European Union and Australia also pleaded for change and Germany said Mubarak had not allayed the fears of the world.

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