Egypt's longest-ruling president Mubarak resigns after 18 days of protest

08:01, February 12, 2011      

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In an unexpected move, Egypt's Vice President Omar Suleiman announced Friday that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has tasked the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to manage the state's affairs, ending his 30 years of rule.

A step that was received with victorious crowds chanting for the military and praising their efforts in safeguarding people's aspirations, the Egyptian Supreme Council of Armed Forces said it will not replace the legitimacy of the people.

"We realized the seriousness of the current situation, we are studying all the necessary procedures and steps to achieve people' s demands and we will declare a statement of the proposed plans," said the army spokesman.

Protestors in the Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the revolt, as well as the rest of the country, celebrated the historic event with dancing, singing and fireworks. Drivers blew horns on the streets.

"I am glad to hear that the president steps down," said a protestor. "But I am not sure what the county's future will be after the military takes over the power."

Adel Sabry, a member of the higher commission of the opposition Wafd Party, told Xinhua that it is a good way to change Egypt, who will see a new paper opened in its political life.

He expected talks between the opposition parties to begin as soon as possible and the military will save the country from chaos.

On Jan.25, thousands of Egyptian protesters hit the streets in an unprecedented demonstration against President Hosni Mubarak and the government, clashing with police and causing downtown Cairo to become standstill. The protest came after several self-immolation cases across the country, apparently inspired by the recent unrest in Tunisia which forced the change of its political arena.

The protesters on Jan. 25 continued until the Egyptian police decided to disperse them using water cannons. Violence erupted for several days. The Egyptian stock market EGX 30 closed down at 10.52 percent drop, yet expected to open on Sunday after a week drop. In addition, a curfew was imposed that tightened business and transportation in Egypt.

MUBARAK STEPS DOWN

Confronting the largest of its kind to challenge his rule in 30 years, Mubarak decided to take steps that might cool anger which eventually did not succeed as people commented "steps were always late."

The president sacked the Ahmed Nazif government including the widely detested former Minister of Interior Affairs Habib El Adly and appointed former Aviation Minister Ahmed Shafick as the prime minister. Mubarak also named Intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, the mastermind behind the end of Islamists militants in the 1990s, as Egypt's Vice President, the first of such position to be held in Mubarak's rule.

The president ordered Suleiman to hold talks with the opposition who rejected Suleiman's call unless Mubarak steps down. Mubarak's final move before he resigned was on Feb. 10 when he delegated his powers to his vice president Omar Suleiman. "I will shoulder my responsibilities until the country witnesses the stable and peaceful transfer of power in September," Mubarak said.

The step that was unexpected by the crowds who hoped Mubarak's speech would be announcement of his resignation brought in tougher protests. Demonstrator marched to the presidential palace on Friday and cordoned the Egyptian television until Suleiman announced the president's resignation. What is unclear until now whether the former Egyptian president is still in Egypt or out.

Early Friday reports confirmed that Mubarak and his family landed in Sharm El Sheikh along with Lieutenant General Sami Hafez Annan, Chief of Staff of the Egyptian Army.

ARMY SAYS TO RESPECT LEGITIMACY OF PEOPLE

The Egyptian army has clarified since it stepped in on Jan. 28, that they will not take any steps that would be against the civilians' will. On Friday, the Egyptian Supreme Council of Armed Forces said it will not replace the legitimacy of the government.

The army spokesman said: "We present our utmost appreciation of Mubarak who preferred the interest of his people than his own, we expressed thankfulness for all his efforts to serve our nation."

The position of the army forces has always been crucial and the final decision maker to what the situation would have ended.

On Thursday, the Supreme Council of Egypt's armed forces issued a statement, saying the council "decided to remain in continuous session to consider what procedures and measures that may be taken to protect the nation and aspirations of Egyptian people.

"The public doesn't trust Omar Suleiman anymore. As Mubarak said he will delegate power to his deputy according to the constitution, which means that Suleiman couldn't take any decision without consulting the president. There will be a kind of manipulation," said Nabil Abdel Fatah, a political expert in the Al Ahram Strategic Studies Center told Xinhua.

UNCLEAR FUTURE OF NDP

The future of the NDP is unclear but most people expect that the party will be dissolved. The newly appointed head Hossam Badrawy has resigned few minutes before Suleiman's announcement about Mubarak's resignation.

Sources said that Badrawy only accepted the post to ensure peaceful transition of power, but once the president decided to step down there was no meaning for Badrawy to remain in post. The NDP was established in 1976 when President Anwar Sadat split the Arab Socialist Union into three separate political organizations representing the right, the center and the left. Ever since its inception the NDP has won the majority of the elections.

In 2010, parliamentary elections which were marred by fraud, the NDP won about 95 per cent of the seats, a step to which many analysts warned against. In an article published by Xinhua, Bahey El Din, firector of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights said "the elections will most certainly serve to revive political trends and violent tendencies, in both in and out of the official parties and political groups, especially among Islamists". Local media reported that many Egyptians believed that the outcome of the parliamentary elections will hurt the government's legitimacy, as the international community also had some criticism on the reported violence and frauds in the elections.

Over the past few years, major protests and accusations targeted the government to what analysts believe should have been a proper indicator of the Jan.25 protest.

OPPOSITION IN TALKS

The Egyptian opposition had no hand in empowering the protests, the tens of thousands of Egyptians were leaderless. However, opposition groups tried to overshadow the youth role in bringing down the Mubarak's regime. On Jan. 27, Egypt's opposition figurehead and Nobel Price laureate Mohamed ElBaradie arrived in Cairo to join the anti- government demonstrations on Friday of Anger. "The barrier of fear is broken," ElBaradie, former chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told reporters at the airport.

Baradei made a number of televised interviews, all through which he insisted on Mubarak's departure as if he was the revolution's leader. Meanwhile, the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood also insisted on taking a role in the revolution. The Brotherhood who previously mentioned that they will not take part in the protests, demanded Mubarak to step down and refused any dialogue with Suleiman before Mubarak steps down. On Feb.6, Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman held talks with representatives of political parties including the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood and protesters, a step to establish a national dialogue and ease the unrest in Egypt.

Ministerial spokesman Magdi Radi said after the meeting that they agreed on "the formation of a committee, which will include the judiciary and a number of political figures, to study and propose constitutional amendments and required legislative amendments, before the first week of March.

Suleiman rejected calls to take over the presidency by opposition leaders during their meeting, a Muslim Brotherhood member who took part in the meeting told Xinhua.

Source: Xinhua

http://paper.people.com.cn/rmrb/html/2011-02/12/nw.D110000renmrb_20110212_2-03.htm?div=-1
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