Egyptian protesters were jubilant over their success in toppling President Hosni Mubarak, but many vowed to stay camped in a central Cairo square until they hear “clear assurances” that the military will meet their demands for democracy.
Burnt-out vehicles were towed away while people swept the streets and hauled away mounds of rubbish. Soldiers removed barricades to open a road leading to Tahrir Square after a night of euphoric celebration and nearly three weeks of protests that forced Mr Mubarak to surrender power to the military.
Many wore placards saying “Sorry for the inconvenience, but we’re building Egypt.”
Protesters were divided about how long to stay, and people were still entering the square through checkpoints. Some took down their makeshift tents, returning blankets donated by Islamic charities and heading home.
Others vowed to stay put until the military, which has pledged to shepherd reforms for greater democracy, issues a promised statement on its next steps. Those could include the dissolution of parliament, creation of a presidential council and a transitional government.
“We have to see how the army will orchestrate a democratic transfer of power. We have to wait and see,” said Ali Mohammed, a sales manager camped out on the square.
Khaled Abdel-Hamid, a member of a coalition of groups behind the protests, said they have no unified leadership to determine when they should leave. But he said there was a consensus that the square would not emptied until the army speaks again.
Nadal Saqr, a university professor, insisted protesters should stay until the army offers “clear assurances” that their demands for democracy are met.
Meanwhile, the 82-year-old former leader remained with his family in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, according to local officials.
Mr Mubarak’s downfall at the hands of the biggest popular uprising in the modern history of the Arab world had stunning implications for the United States and the West, Israel, and the region, unsettling rulers across the Mideast.