Mubarak Has Stepped Down, Tahrir Square Rejoicing [Update]
In a brief announcement on Egyptian state television at 6:00 p.m. Cairo time, Vice President Omar Suleiman said that President Hosni Mubarak has relinquished power and asked the Egyptian Armed Forces Council to assume responsibility for leadership of the country.
UPDATE — 6:21 p.m. Cairo — Al Jazeera reporter on scene at Tahrir Square is overcome with emotion, says she was born the week that President Mubarak came to power and that she’s never seen anything like this.
Observers have likened the scene in Cairo to the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall; people fell to their knees praying and crying, others cheering, chanting “God is Great!”
Emotion of today’s events have apparently overcome the usually restrained Egyptian television as the anchor shares a smile while reviewing the scenes of celebration across the country.
UPDATE — 6:30 p.m. Cairo — The leader of the National Democratic Party has also resigned, acknowledging the people have won:
Hossam Badrawi, the new general secretary of President Hosni Mubarak’s ruling National Democratic Party, has resigned, Reuters reports, quoting an interview on al-Hayat TV.
“It’s a resignation from the position and from the party,” Badrawi said in the interview. “The formation of new parties in a new manner that reflects new thinking is better for society now at this stage.”
Badrawi added in an interview with Bloomberg news, “The revolution has succeeded … What’s the need for events that do not allow for economic development? … We want work. We want companies to make profit and pay taxes. We want safety for tourism.”
ElBaradei was quoted in USAToday:
Egyptian opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei, reacting to the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak, says: “This is the greatest day of my life. The country has been liberated.”
UPDATE — 7:00 p.m. Cairo — India’s southern news outlet Deccan Chronicle notes this exchange at a distance:
In his speech on Thursday, he took a swipe at the United States and other countries that want a faster transition to democracy in the Arab world’s most populous nation, vowing: “I have never bent to foreign diktats.”
US President Barack Obama reacted with a flash of anger of his own, saying Mubarak had failed to map out “meaningful or sufficient” change, or to speak clearly enough to Egypt and the world.
Many translations heard yesterday in the U.S. did not use the word “diktats,” suggesting that there may be more information gained or lost depending on the translation filter applied to important public messages made by Mubarak’s regime as well as the Obama administration.
President Obama is expected to make comments regarding the Egyptian revolution today at 1:30 p.m. EST (8:30 p.m. Cairo time). We’ll have a post covering the president’s comments and analysis later today.
UPDATE — 9:00 p.m. Cairo — President Obama’s statement has been pushed back and now expected at 3:00 p.m. EST, although a confirmation isn’t readily available. Apparently the White House is struggling to manage Press Secretary Robert Gibbs’ last day on the job and getting a coherent statement together — which one might say reflects their policy on Egypt.