Egypt's Mubarak steps down, military in charge

09:36, February 12, 2011      

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Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepped down on Friday afternoon and the military took charge of the country, after more than two weeks of mass protests against his 30-year rule.

"In these difficult times, President Mohamed Hosni Mubarak has decided to relinquish the presidency of the Republic, and charged the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces with the governance of the nation," Vice President Omar Suleiman said in a televised speech.

The military council, which has taken over control of the country, will sack the cabinet and suspend both houses of parliament and rule with the head of the supreme constitutional court, AL Arabia TV reported on Friday.

Mubarak's decision came just one day after he announced that he would hand over power to the vice president without stepping down.

Tens of thousands of protesters chanted "the people have brought down the regime," as Suleiman announced the president's resignation.

"This is just one of our demands, we still seek the end of the emergency law, try the corrupt people, and create a civilized Egypt," said Sami Daoud, a protester in the Tahrir Square.

"The Muslim brotherhood is like the rest of Egyptians, we are happy, however, the rest of our demands have not been met. We are now waiting for the statement of the military," said spokesman Mohamed Saad El Ketatny.

A military source told Xinhua earlier that Mubarak and his family had left for the country's Red Sea resort Sharm el-Sheikh, accompanied by Lieutenant General Sami Hafez Annan, chief of staff of the Egyptian army.

"Freedom Freedom...People and the Army, One hand in Hand," the Egyptians shouted in Tahrir Square.

"Congratulations Egyptians.. I am more than happy, everyone around is just happy.. I am proud of Egypt," said Haider Ghaleb, a 22-year-old protester.

"Congratulations the Egyptian youth, you made it! For the betterment of Egypt, a new one that will be rebuilt," another protester Sahar Rateb said.

Mubarak's resignation came only one day after he announced that he decided to hand over power to his deputy, another concession made by the former president to ease the nationwide protests.

"I will not run in the coming presidential elections, and I'm satisfied with the 60 years serving the country in times of war and peace," he said.

Mubarak also refused to leave the country as was demanded by the protesters. "I will die on the soil," he added.

Mubarak became the country's president seven days after his predecessor Anwar Sadat was assassinated by Muslim extremists at a military parade on Oct. 6, 1981, for signing a peace treaty with Israel in 1979.

He was widely blamed for failing to fight against corruption and increase jobs in the country. Before the protests, his son, Gamal Mubarak, was widely believed to have been groomed for the presidency after his father, which was one of the reasons that led to the eruption of the mass demonstration.

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