Mubarak flees Cairo as protesters march to Presidential palace


Cairo, Feb 11 (PTI) Embattled Egyptian President HosniMubarak with his family today fled Cairo for southern sea sideresort of Sharm-al-Shaikh as angry protesters marched to hispalace vowing to topple him.

Massive crowds angered by Army''s support to Mubarak,who refused to quit till September, thronged the streets ofCairo, Alexandria and other cities in what they called the"final stage" of their campaign to dethrone an autocraticregime.

Their elation turning into despair after Mubarakrefused to budge from his position last night, the crowdsmoved out from the Tahrir Square on the 18th day of theirprotests, marching to the presidential palace and surroundingthe state television building, institutions they consider asthe symbols of the regime.

International media reported that the President andhis family left for Sharm-el Sheikh, some 400 kms from Cairo,where he has a palace.

As protests were held throughout the country withworkers unions, journalists and clerics too joining in,reports indicated that Mubarak had left Cairo along with hisfamily and was headed to his residence at the Red Sea resortof Sharm al-Shaikh.

Earlier in the day, the Army appeared to throw itsweight behind Mubarak''s transition plan, assuring theprotesters that it will guarantee a free and fair election inSeptember, and asking them to go home and get to work.

Hugely disappointed by the military''s stand, theprotesters pledged to take their campaign to a final stage,calling on millions to join the street protests on a ''FarewellFriday''.

The developments came a day after Mubarak appeared ontelevision and dashed the hopes of the people by reiteratingthat he will step down only in September. The 82-year-oldalso announced that he would be transferring some of hispowers to Vice President Omar Suleiman.

The ''Go Mubarak, Go Suleiman'' cry growing shriller,the infuriated protesters marched to the Abedeen palace afterFriday prayers and almost laid a siege to it, amid a heavymilitary presence.

At the state television building, thousands blockedpeople from entering or leaving, accusing the broadcaster ofsupporting the current government and of not truthfullyreporting on protests.

Tanks and military personnel have been deployed tobolster barricades around the presidential palace though therewere no indications yet that the military intends to launch acrackdown.

In a statement on state television earlier, themilitary had promised to lift a 30-year-old emergency law "assoon as the current circumstances end", besides assuringpeople that it would guarantee changes to the constitution.

But, the statement disappointed many people whovowed to take the protests to "a last and final stage". PTIWAJ AKJ VSC

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