Mubarak resigns as Egyptian president (Third Lead)

Friday, February 11, 2011

CAIRO - Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepped down Friday, finally bowing to the vociferous demands of hundreds of thousands of protesters calling for an end to his three-decade rule, and handed over power to the country’s armed forces.

Al Jazeera quoted Vice President Omar Suleiman as saying in an address on state TV that the president was “waiving” his office and had handed over authority to the Supreme Council of the armed forces.

Suleiman’s short statement was received with a roar of approval, chanting and flag-waving from a crowd of hundreds of thousands in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, as well by pro-democracy campaigners who led protests across the country.

The crowd in Tahrir Sqaure chanted “We have brought down the regime”. Many were seen crying, cheering and embracing one another.

“Tonight, after all of these weeks of frustration, of violence, of intimidation … today the people of Egypt undoubtedly (feel they) have been heard, not only by the president, but by people all around the world,” the Al Jazeera correspondent at Tahrir Square reported.

“The military has stood aside and people are flooding through (a gap where barbed wire has been moved aside),” he added.

Suleiman’s announcement came as pro-democracy activists in the Egyptian capital had marched on the presidential palace and state television buildings Friday, the 18th consecutive day of protests.

Protesters responded by cheering, waving flags, embracing and sounding car horns.

“The people have brought down the regime,” they chanted.

“In the name of God the merciful, the compassionate, citizens, during these very difficult circumstances Egypt is going through, President Hosni Mubarak has decided to step down from the office of president of the republic and has charged the high council of the armed forces to administer the affairs of the country,” Suleiman said.

“May God help everybody.”

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which has been put in charge of Egypt’s affairs, is expected to make an announcement shortly, CNN reported.

US President Barack Obama said he was notified of Mubarak’s decision Friday and was closely watching the extraordinary developments unfold in Egypt, a key US ally.

He will make a statement Friday afternoon, the White House said.

A source with close connections to Persian Gulf government leaders told CNN that Mubarak had gone to the Red Sea resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh.

Earlier in the day, thousands surrounded the state television building, accusing the broadcaster of supporting the government and of not truthfully reporting on the protests.

At least ten thousand protesters were also gathered outside the presidential palace in Heliopolis after demonstrators at Tahriri Square called for a march in a show of solidarity on the 18th day of the unrest.

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