Hosni Mubarak stepped down from the Egyptian presidency and ceded power to the military according to a brief statement read on state TV by Vice President Omar Suleiman. "In these difficult circumstances that the country is passing through, President Hosni Mubarak has decided to leave the position of the presidency,'' said Suleiman at about 6:00 pm local time.
Egyptians protesting the Mubarak regime met Suleiman’s announcement with great joy and relief. As seen in the video below from Al Jazeera English, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators in Cairo’s Tahrir Square waved Egyptian flags and chanted “we are free!” at the news of Mubarak stepping down immediately:
The celebrations in Egypt also extended to nearby countries such as Tunisia where a popular uprising last month toppled the lengthy rule of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. In addition, it remains to be seen if the actions in Egypt will help pro-democracy movements in the Middle East/North Africa region such as Algeria.
Leaders from around the world reacted favorably and with guarded optimism to today’s developments in Egypt. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged that a “transparent, peaceful and orderly” transition take place; hence, reflecting worries that the strengthened role of the military could hinder a transition to civilian, democratic rule.
Some protesters fear that despite Mubarak stepping down the authoritarian regime he led for thirty years will continue. "No to Mubarak, no to Suleiman" cried out demonstrators in Alexandria according to CNN. Nonetheless, a military communiqué issued earlier today tried to quell such worries by promising to carry out constitutional reforms. As mentioned in the following video by Britain’s ITN News, the statement also pledged that the military would not prosecute “honest men” who have urged an end to widespread corruption:
Egyptians living abroad viewed positively the news Mubarak’s resignation. Today’s joy contrasted sharply with yesterday’s disappointment by many Egyptian expats when Mubarak vowed to continue in power until September elections.
The events in Egypt have affected global finance such as a decrease in the prices of crude oil. Stocks indices that were initially falling on Friday morning rebounded quickly after news emerged that Mubarak resigned.
Video Source – YouTube via Al Jazeera English and ITN News
Online Sources- BBC News, MSNBC, The Guardian, Reuters, monstersandcritics.com, CNN, CBS New York, CBC, The Telegraph, ABC News