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***HISTORY IN THE MAKING: Egypt's President Mubarak Steps Down

Posted on 11 Feb 2011

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Wild cheers resonated throughout Egypt, with the country's citizens shouting "Egypt is Free", after it was announced at 11:00am EST that President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule has ended, delegating his power to the Egyptian army.

Earlier Friday, Egypt's powerful armed forces backed the handoff of power from President Hosni Mubarak to his vice president and pledged to ensure the transition to free elections, amid reports that the president had left the capital for his home in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh, with an announcment that an "important statement" was forthcoming. 

A couple of hours later, Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman then came on state television and announced that Mubarek had resigned, after which cheers erupted from tens of thousands of demonstrators in Cairo's Tahrir Square as word spread about the Egyptian President's resignation. It was a moment anti-government protesters had been waiting for after 18 days of rentless demonstrations that called for Mubarak's departure.

Late Thursday Mubarak had shocked the crowds in Tahrir Square and confused observers in the White House and elsewhere with a difficult-to-interpret pledge to hand power to his vice president while staying on during the transition to a new governing structure. The half-measure drew a strongly worded critique from U.S. President Barack Obama and set up a day of potential conflict with protesters.