In an abrubt about face after yesterday’s confusing and somewhat defiant speech, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak resigned today and ceded his power to the Egyptian military;
The streets of Cairo exploded in shouts of “God is Great” moments after Mr. Mubarak’s vice president and longtime intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, announced during evening prayers that Mr. Mubarak had passed all authority to a council of military leaders.
“Taking into consideration the difficult circumstances the country is going through, President Mohammed Hosni Mubarak has decided to leave the post of president of the republic and has tasked the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to manage the state’s affairs,” Mr. Suleiman, grave and ashen, said in a brief televised statement.
Even before he had finished speaking, protesters began hugging and cheering, shouting “Egypt is free!” and “You’re an Egyptian, lift your head”
The direction of the country with the military in control remains to be seen, but for now:
Parents were seen putting their children on the tanks to have their photos snapped with the soldiers, while the soldiers reached down to shake hands with the protesters and people chanted, “The people and the army are one hand.” In a show of solidarity in at least lower levels of the army, three Egyptian officers shed their weapons and uniforms and joined the protesters.
Senator John Kerry, chairman of Senate Foreign Relations Committee issued a statement today following the announcement that President Mubarak had resigned:
“This is an extraordinary moment for Egypt. Courageous and peaceful demands for freedom and opportunity have now won the Egyptian people a chance at a new beginning. Now the hard work intensifies to prepare for free and fair elections that will allow the people to choose a broadly representative and responsive government. Egypt’s army and transitional leaders must heed the call to lift the emergency law and clarify a timetable to establish a proper foundation for credible elections. The United States must help Egyptians turn this democratic moment into a process that builds a government responsive to economic needs as well as demands for freedom. What happens next will have repercussions far beyond Egypt’s borders. We know from recent experience in Gaza that this requires not just elections, but hard work to build a government that is transparent, accountable, and broadly representative.’
Kerry had led the calls from the U.S. for Mubarak to step down on February 1 with an OP/ED in the NY Times.
It’s been incredible to watch this all unfold in Egypt and know that the internet, blogs and social media helped to actually play a part. The world has changed in so many ways. I hope that the people of Egypt find their democracy.