President Hosni Mubarak on Friday evening yielded to Egypt ’s 18-day youth revolution, handing over power to the military, in the second ouster of an Arab leader by an overwhelming wave of popular upheaval sweeping the Middle East.
As Tahrir Square, the nerve-center of the revolt that started less than three weeks ago, exploded into massive chants of “He gave up, he gave up” and drivers sounded their horns in a festive tune across Cairo’s streets, the region’s largest country and one of its heavyweights bid farewell to 30 years of autocratic Mubarak rule, The Financial Times reports.
Mr Mubarak’s exit, in the face of an unstoppable uprising that refused every concession short of his immediate departure, came exactly four weeks after Tunisia’s Zein al-Abidine Ben Ali was ousted by popular protests, in an Arab world where the people have suddenly discovered their power to change the status quo.
“Egypt will be heaven in 10 years,” declared Wael Ghoneim, the Google executive who had emerged as a leading symbol of the youth revolution.
“I cannot get a grip of myself, it is overwhelming,” said a tearful Karim Arafa as he celebrated in Tahrir Square . “I’m so proud to be an Egyptian. The people have overcome, we have won.”
A senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s biggest opposition group, said Egyptians had achieved the main goal of their popular uprising, according to Reuters.
Unlike Tunisia , however, the military, the only institution still respected by people but also most concerned about maintaining stability, has now stepped out of the shadows into direct rule for the first time since the 1952 officers revolt that brought down the monarchy in Egypt .
World Leaders Reactions
World leaders have begun reacting to the announcement that Hosni Mubarak has resigned as Egypt’s president and handed over power to the armed forces.
The following statements are given to Al Jazeera:
“It is important now that the dialogue is accelerated leading to a broad-based government which will respect the aspirations of, and deliver stability for, the Egyptian people,” she said just after Egypt’s vice-president delivered the news on Friday.
“The future of Egypt rightly remains in the hands of the Egyptian people,” she said.
Barack Obama, the US president, is due to make a statement on the development later on Friday.
The White House said Obama watched the television coverage of history unfolding outside a meeting at the Oval Office.
A day earlier, the US leader had said Cairo “must spell out a clear path to democracy”.
Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, hailed Mubarak’s decision as an “historic change”, and called on the country to respect its 1979 peace treaty with Israel.
Her sentiments were echoed by a senior Israeli official, who said: “We hope that the change to democracy in Egypt will happen without violence and that the peace accord will remain.”
David Cameron, Britain’s prime minister, also urged Egypt to “move towards civilian and democratic rule”.
“Egypt now has a really precious moment of opportunity to have a government that can bring the country together,” he said.
Meanwhile Switzerland reacted by saying it was freezing the assets potentially belonging to Mubarak, according to a foreign ministry spokesman.
Related by the Econotwist’s:
- Please, Don’t Mention “Contagion”!
- Egypt’s revolution is not over. (redstate.com)
- Mubarak Resigns, Joy in Egypt (readwriteweb.com)
- Egypt’s Berlin Wall Moment: Embattled President Hosni Mubarak Steps Down (mediaite.com)
- End of Mubarak era as protests topple president (calgaryherald.com)
- Egypt’s Dangerous Game: Waiting for the Army to Decide (time.com)
- Mubarak has resigned: Egypt vice president (theprovince.com)