Mubarak ‘steps down!’ – swept aside by the revolution

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President Hosni Mubarak has stepped down and fled from the capital, Cairo.

Vice-President Omar Suleiman announced on Egyptian state television yesterday afternoon: ‘In these grave circumstances that the country is passing through, President Hosni Mubarak has decided to leave his position as President of the Republic.

‘He has mandated the Armed Forces Supreme Council to run the state,’ said vice president Suleiman.

However the masses who have got rid of the ‘Pharaoh’ will not put up with rule by his servants.

Cheers went up from tens of millions of Egyptians involved in mass protests all over the country after the short announcement.

Earlier, millions of Egyptians had responded to Mubarak’s TV broadcast on Thursday evening – in which he refused to stand down – by flocking into Cairo’s Tahrir Square and marching on the state TV station and presidential palace.

The entire working class was poised to take part in a general strike called for today.

Mubarak and his family fled the anger of the masses yesterday. They left the country and he flew out of the capital to the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

He is expected to move to exile in Saudi Arabia.

A provisional government will now be formed to organise general elections.

However the revolutionary victory will now embolden the working class and all of the oppressed to move forward to change Egypt and the Middle East forever.

Earlier the masses had spoken out.

‘He has to leave the country, our demands are clear,’ said Magdy Sabry, one of thousands blockading the state television building in central Cairo.

‘We want the entire ruling National Democratic Party to be dissolved and to get out because they have destroyed the country,’ Sabry added.

Thousands of people marched on Mubarak’s main official residence in the upscale Heliopolis neighbourhood, their numbers boosted by hundreds of people arriving from Tahrir Square.

There were around half a million on the seafront in the second city of Alexandria and there were reports of hundreds of thousands more in Red Sea cities.

Earlier the Egyptian Army said in a statement that it would lift the much-criticised emergency law in force since 1981, but only ‘as soon as the current circumstances are over’.

It also said it was committed to ‘safeguarding the legitimate demands of the people and will work to implement them . . . for a peaceful transition of power and a free democratic society’.

The military Supreme Council stressed it would not arrest protesters, but warned against any ‘harm to the safety and security of the nation’ and it urged striking state employees to head back to work.

Far from heading back to work, millions more took to the streets.

Outside the presidential palace, protesters reacted furiously to the military’s announcement, which was read to the crowd by a colonel.

One demonstrator grabbed his microphone to berate the military. ‘You have disappointed us, all our hopes rested in you,’ he shouted, as the crowd began to chant slogans calling for Mubarak to be put on trial.

‘No, no, this is not a coup,’ the colonel protested, insisting that the army would not take power itself.