Egypt’s 30 years under President Hosni Mubarak ended to thunderous cries of revolution on Friday, after millions of pro-democracy protesters who’d occupied the country’s largest cities for days threatened a “Day of Martyrs” if he did not leave.
Mubarak had vowed to remain in the presidency, but after 17 days of intense protest and violent outbursts, he was compelled to again appear on television and insist upon staying. While Mubarak did initially cede some powers to his vice president, he did not quit, enraging the protesters.
Then, with a statement on Friday that lasted but 30-seconds, Vice President Omar Suleiman announced Mubarak’s departure. Before going, the former president reportedly asked the army to assume control of the country’s affairs.
Reports had circulated earlier in the day that Mubarak had left Cairo.
Across the nation, scenes of anger erupted with emotion and celebration, with people crying, waving flags and banners, hugging each other and dancing in Tahrir Square. Some simply began stomping the ground or falling to their knees in prayer.
“All my years of life I have known one president and all my years I have not seen such sentiment on the streets in Egypt,” one commenter told Al Jazeera.
In the interim, the military has pledged to help usher in a new, democratically elected government. It was unclear what the continued role of the vice president would be.
“I’ve worked my entire adult life to see the power of the people come to the fore,” another commenter told Al Jazeera. “… What we did, I just, I don’t even know how to describe it… I am so proud, I am so proud.
“…Everything now seems possible. It’s overwhelming.”
This video is from Al Jazeera, broadcast Feb. 11, 2011.
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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