CAIRO/BRUSSELS: European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek on Friday welcomed the resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak as an "historic day of peaceful, lasting and democratic change."
Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman announced the news of Mubarak's resignation on Friday afternoon. "Amid these grave circumstances which the country is going through, President Hosni Mubarak has decided to resign as president of the republic," Suleiman said in a brief statement. "He has ordered the Armed Forces Supreme Council to run the country."
Egypt plunged into chaos last month when millions of people took to the streets in Cairo and other major cities to demand the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak. Some of them clashed with security forces, killing as many as 300 people and injuring thousands more.
Immediately after the announcement of Mubarak's resignation, celebrations broke out in Cairo, Alexandria, and other cities across the Egypt and in the region. In Cairo, tens of thousands of people chanted "Egypt is free!" while fireworks was seen in Beirut and thousands of Palestinians celebrated in the Gaza Strip.
"Today the voice of the Egyptian people was heard. Political responsibility has prevailed, and the decision taken by President Mubarak should facilitate democratic transition without further violence," Buzek said. "I am convinced that this is an historic day of peaceful, lasting and democratic change. I fully support the aspirations of the Egyptian people. We, the people of Europe, stand by their side and offer our support in response to their call."
Buzek acknowledged that the Egyptian people want the old regime to be dismantled and said Europe will "measure the next steps" in the fulfillment of the people's demand by repealing emergency laws and ending all intimidation of journalists, human rights defenders and political dissidents. "A new government including all democratic forces is crucial for the transition," he added.
With the army now in control of Egypt, Buzek said the army must pursue a constructive role in the democratization process. "This is only a beginning of a long road to lasting change: a road of political transition, through constitutional reforms, free and pluralistic elections and strengthening of civil society: a road towards a truly participatory democracy for all. It is also a long road towards a more just economic and social order, building on the rule of law."
The European Parliament leader further said it is of "utmost importance" to carefully cherish and protest the "flowers of freedom" which have been obtained with Mubarak's resignation. "A democratic Egypt is in the interest first and foremost of its citizens: of the Egyptians," he said.
Buzek finally added: "As I have said before, we are also at the beginning of what has to become a renewed partnership between the Northern and Southern shores of the Mediterranean, a partnership that will be based on truly shared values: justice and peace, democracy and freedom. This will be a partnership of the people, by the people and for the people."
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