Hosni Mubarak has resigned as Egypt’s president.
The announcement comes after 18 days of sustained protests in Cairo and other towns across the country. It was made by Vice-President Omar Suleiman on state television. Suleiman said:
“In the name of God the merciful, the most gracious, due to the events that our country is going through, President Mohamed Hosni Mubarak has decided to step down and ordered the Supreme Military Council to run state affairs.”
Hundreds of thousands of pro-democracy protesters burst into chants, dance and tears before Suleiman could even finish his short statement. They thought they had succeeded in their mission yesterday, only to be left deflated by a rambling speech by Mubarak in which he said he was delegating some powers to his deputy, Suleiman. Their premature joy turned to anger and a huge demonstration was called for after Friday prayers.
Their prayers were answered and their anger turned once again to hope as news filtered through that Mubarak and his family had left Cairo for a palace in the Red Sea resort, Sharm el-Sheikh. Within hours hope had become elation.
Mubarak is the second long-standing dictator in the region to be forced out by his people in less than a month. Tunisian leader Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia on January 14 after days of uprising against the state security apparatus.
Egypt’s future is now uncertain and while the transition to democracy unfolds, power will be in the hands of the army. Hussein Tantawi heads the Supreme Military Council that has taken control of Egypt.