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Images: Jubilant Egypt celebrates Mubarak's exit

Last updated on: February 12, 2011 04:01 IST

Images: Jubilant Egypt celebrates Mubarak's exit

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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.

Text: PTI

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Image: Anti-government protesters carry a placard and celebrate in Tahrir square in Cairo
Photographs: Yannis Behrakis/Reuters
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'It's about the peoples power to bring about change'

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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.

Image: A spokesman for Egypt's higher military council salutes while reading a statement on transition of power
Photographs: Reuters TV
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'Congratulations Egypt'

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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.

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."

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


Image: Thousands of Egyptian anti-government protesters celebrate inside Tahrir Square after the announcement of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's resignation in Cairo
Photographs: Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters
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Obama seeks a credible transition of power

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Obama asked for an irreversible and credible process of transition of power in this country which has witnessed massive pro-democracy protests for more than two weeks now.

"There are very few moments in our lives where we have the privilege of witnessing history taking place. This is one of those moments. This is one of those times," Obama said in his remarks to the press.

Obama said that the Egyptian military must ensure credible transition of power. "The people of Egypt have spoken, their voices have been heard, and Egypt will never be the same," Obama said.


Image: A man waves an Egyptian flag as fireworks explode during the celebration of the resignation of Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak
Photographs: Mohamed Azakir/Reuters
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'This is not the end of Egypt's transition'

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"By stepping down, President Mubarak responded to the Egyptian people's hunger for change. But this is not the end of Egypt's transition. It's a beginning. I'm sure there will be difficult days ahead, and many questions remain unanswered," said the US President.

Obama's remarks were delayed by about 100 minutes because he was in the White House Situation Room meeting with his national security team. Earlier he dropped by a previously schedule Principals Committee meeting convened by National Security Advisor Tom Donilon to discuss current developments in Egypt.

Image: An Egyptian man holds a sign thanking Qatar-based channel Al-Jazeera as he celebrates the resignation of Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak
Photographs: Reuters
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'The voice of the Egyptian people has been heard'

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The Middle east broke in celebrations over Mubarak's exit. People from Tunisia to Beirut took to the streets to express their joy and solidarity with the Egyptians.In the Gaza Strip, Palestinians took to the streets and celebrated. 

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon commended the people of Egypt for their peaceful protests that led to the exit of the embattled President. "I commend the people of Egypt for the peaceful and courageous and orderly manner in which they have exercised their legitimate rights," Ban said in a statement.

"I respect what must have been a difficult decision, taken in the wider interests of the Egyptian people," he added.

The UN chief stressed the need for a "transparent, orderly and peaceful transition." The transition, he said, should meet the "legitimate aspirations of the Egyptian people and includes free, fair and credible elections leading to the early establishment of civilian rule.I urge the interim authorities to chart a clear path forward with the participation of all stakeholders," he added.

Going forward, Ban said, human rights needed to be respected and everyone should have a say in the future courseof the nation. The voice of the Egyptian people, particularly the youth, has been heard, and it is for them to determine the future of their country," he said.


Image: A young Egyptian shakes hands with an army officer atop a tank in Tahrir square in Cairo
Photographs: Yannis Behrakis/Reuters
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