Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has stepped down and the vice president has named a military council to run the country's affairs, state television said on Friday after 18 days of mass protests against his rule.
A ruling party official said earlier that Mubarak and his family had left Cairo for the glitzy Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh where there is a presidential residence. He added that this proved Mubarak had handed powers to deputy Omar Suleiman.
In the morning, Egypt's powerful military gave guarantees that promised democratic reforms would be carried out but angry protesters intensified an uprising against Mubarak by marching on the presidential palace and mobbing the state television hub.
The army's gesture was an effort to defuse an 18-day-old revolt unprecedented in modern Egypt but, in ignoring the key demand of protesters for Mubarak's ouster now, it failed to stop turmoil disrupting the economy and rattling the Middle East.
Mubarak had promised only that he would not for re-election in September and that he would preside over reforms until then.
This was not enough for the many hundreds of thousands of mistrustful protesters who rallied in cities across the Arab world's most populous and influential country on Friday, fed up with high unemployment, a corrupt elite and police repression.
Tahrir Square celebrates
A speaker made the announcement in Cairo's Tahrir Square where hundreds of thousands broke down in tears, celebrated and hugged each other chanting: "The people have brought down the regime." Others shouted: "Allahu Akbar (God is great).
The 82-year-old Mubarak's downfall after 18 days of unprecedented mass protests was a momentous victory for people power and was sure to rock autocrats throughout the Arab world and beyond.
Hundreds of thousands of Egyptian protesters waved flags, cried, cheered and embraced in celebration on Friday when the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak was announced.
"The people have brought down the regime," chanted the crowds in Tahrir Square.
It further promised to guarantee free and fair elections and other concessions made by Mubarak to protesters that would have been unthinkable before Jan. 25, when the revolt began.
But none of this was enough for many hundreds of thousands of mistrustful protesters who rallied in cities across the Arab world's most populous and influential country on Friday, fed up with high unemployment, a corrupt elite and police repression.
Since the fall of Tunisia's long-time leader Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, which triggered protests around the region, Egyptians have been demonstrating in huge numbers against rising prices, poverty, unemployment and their authoritarian regime.
ElBaradei: Best day
Egyptian opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei said it was the "greatest day" his life when Egypt's Vice President Omar Suleiman announced that President Hosni Mubarak had stepped down, handing power to the army.
"We have waited for this day for decades. We all look forward to working with the military to prepare for free and fair elections. I look forward to a transitional period of co-sharing of power between the army and the people," ElBaradei told Reuters by telephone.
Asked if he was going to run for the presidency, ElBaradei said: "The issue is not on my mind. I have lived enough and am happy to see Egypt liberated."
ReutersGüncelleme Tarihi: 11 Şubat 2011, 18:58