Mubarak Out, Egypt's Army Takes Control
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has stepped down after military leaders in his country warned him that if he did not resign, they would force him to leave. On Thursday he had announced that he planned to stay in power until elections were held in September.
The military pledged Saturday to honor Egypt's treaties, including its agreements with Israel. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu welcomed the announcement.
Military leaders also promised to hand over power when a new administration is elected. In the meantime, they have asked Mubarak's ministers to remain in power.
Demonstrators in Cairo's Tahrir square and elsewhere in Egypt, who had spent more than two weeks calling for Mubarak's ouster, held victory celebrations Saturday. Sympathizers celebrated around the world, including in London, Washington, and Sydney.
Opposition leader and former UN official Mohammed ElBaradei said Mubarak's departure was “the greatest day of my life,” adding, “The country has been liberated after decades of repression.”
While protesters in Egypt expressed joy, many said their work is not complete. Opposition parties and youth groups still plan to hold regular rallies calling on the government to implement democratic reforms.
Among those pleased by Mubarak's departure were residents of Tunisia, Lebanon, and Gaza. In Gaza women distributed candy in the streets, while men fired in the air in celebration. “This is a happy day, with Allah's help all the corrupt leaders will fall,” one woman told reporters. “This is a victory for the will of the people, and a turning point for the entire region.
Mubarak may face new challenges despite having agreed to cede authority. His Swiss bank accounts have now been frozen, with Switzerland's Foreign Ministry explaining, “The government wants to avoid any risk of misappropriation of state-owned Egyptian assets.”