Mubarak steps down after mass protests, army takes over (UPDATE 2)

Mubarak steps down after mass protests, army takes over (UPDATE 2)

Details added  (the first version was posted at 20:05)

Egyptian President Hosny Mubarak stepped down on Friday after 30 years in power, asking the army to run a country in the grip of a popular uprising for political change, dpa reported.

His departure was announced on state television by his deputy, Vice President Omar Suleiman.

"After these difficult times in the country, President Mohamed Hosny Mubarak decided he is leaving office and appointed the High Council of the Armed Forces to run the affairs the country," Suleiman said.

The military leadership was expected to make a statement Friday evening. The broadcaster al-Arabiya said it would name a council made up of civilian and military leaders to run the country.

The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest opposition group, called on the military to hand over power to a civilian-led government soon.

More than 1 million people gathered in Cairo's central Tahrir Square broke out in jubilation on hearing the news that Mubarak was finally going after 18 days of anti-government protests.

People danced, cheered, sang and waved flags as the sound of gunfire, car horns, and ululations rang through the Egyptian capital.

"The army and the people, are one hand united," anti-government demonstrators gathered in front of the state television building shouted.

Earlier, the president and his family left the presidential palace in Cairo for the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

The surprise announcement by Suleiman came a day after a defiant Mubarak insisted he would remain in power, but divested some of his authority to the vice president.

Many Egyptians had expected Mubarak would step down on Thursday. When he didn't widespread outrage erupted among the protesters in Tahrir Square.

Before Friday's announcement, hundreds of thousands marched towards Ras El-Tin, the presidential palace in the northern city of Alexandria. More people staged demonstrations in the southern city of Luxor and in North Sinai where they chanted "down with Mubarak, and down with Suleiman" and "we won't leave, Mubarak must leave."

One protester was killed when clashes erupted between police adn demonstrators in al-Arish.

The protests continued even after the armed forces council vowed to end the decades-old state of emergency once the current unrest ends.

Shortly before the announcement that Mubarak had left office, the secretary-general of the ruling National Democratic Party, Hossam Badrawi, quit after less than a week in office.

Badrawi said it was time for a new politics to emerge.


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