Egypt jubilant as Mubarak resigns


Egyptians set off fireworks at Tahrir Square as they celebrate the resignation of president Hosni Mubarak (AP)

Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak has resigned as president and handed control to the military after 18 days of pro-democracy demonstrations.

Several hundred thousand protesters who had gathered in Cairo’s central Tahrir Square exploded into joy, waving Egyptian flags.

US President Barack Obama welcomed the peaceful transition of power, saying: “The people of Egypt have spoken. Their voices have been heard. And Egypt will never be the same.”

In brief remarks at the White House, the president noted that it was “not the end of Egypt’s transition, it’s a beginning”. He said that many important questions remain to be resolved and difficult times lie ahead, but added: “I’m confident the people of Egypt can find the answers.”

Mr Obama said: “Egyptians have inspired us, and they’ve done so by putting the lie to the idea that justice is best gained by violence. For Egypt, it was the moral force of non-violence, not terrorism, not mindless killing, but non-violence, moral force, that bent the arc of history.”

In Cairo the crowds outside Mr Mubarak’s presidential palace chanted: “The people ousted the president”.

Car horns and celebratory shots in the air were heard around the city of 18 million after Vice President Omar Suleiman made the announcement on national TV just after nightfall.

Mr Mubarak had sought to cling to power, handing some of his powers to Mr Suleiman while keeping his title, but an explosion of protests on Friday rejecting the move appeared to have pushed the military into forcing him out completely.

“In these grave circumstances that the country is passing through, President Hosni Mubarak has decided to leave his position as president of the republic,” a grim-looking Mr Suleiman said. “He has mandated the Armed Forces Supreme Council to run the state. God is our protector and succour.”

Nobel Peace prize winner Mohammed ElBaradei, whose young supporters were among the organisers of the protest movement, told The Associated Press: “This is the greatest day of my life. The country has been liberated after decades of repression.”

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