Army starts removing barricades from Tahrir Square

Cairo, Feb 12 (PTI) Joyful Egyptians in thousands werestill holding celebrations as dawn broke in the Egyptiancapital singing and dancing in the streets as the country''sArmy began removing the barricades around the famous TahrirSquare, the hub of the popular revolt that toppled the despotHosni Mubarak from power after three decades.

Revellers still occupied the Square this morning after anightlong celebrations, but units from the Army began to clearthe area to dismantle the barriers, with the protestersdivided whether to continue or abandon their 18-day oldoccupation of the area.

Seventy-five-old Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawiwho heads the Supreme Council of the Armed forces and hasassumed command in the country was expected to make astatement about plans to form a transitional government.

In its third statement so far, the Council said that itwould respect the mood of the people. "The Council will issuefurther statements that will announce forthcoming steps,measures and arrangements, and it affirms at the same timethat it is not a replacement for the legitimacy that isacceptable to the people".

While some of the protesters headed home victorious, butothers kept on the vigil vowing to be their till thetransition to civilian rule was complete.

"Some of us want to return home. Others want to stay onto guard our victory. We are forming a Facebook group to keepin touch", a protester who was going home said.

Another democracy vigilante declared, "We propose toreturn and meet here each year on January 25 the start of theprotest".

Most of the thousands gathered there described theannouncement of stepping down of Mubarak as the "mostmomentous day of their life".

The Army lifted all the barricades on the road adjacentto the museum. The soldiers and civilian volunteers also cutmetal barriers and barbed wire as cranes took away torchedvehicles.

The Army Supreme Command Council is yet to announceconcrete plans for the transition to democracy. .

Throughout the night it was an unending celebrations with people pouring into the streets--dancing, cheering andcongratulating each other as they rejoiced the long-awaitedouster of Mubarak.

Moments after the announcement, a wave of joy sweptacross the country, with cars lining up and honking and peoplewaiving the Egyptian flag.

In Cairo, people flooded the city''s central TahrirSquare, the epicentre of the massive 18-day protest againstMubarak''s regime, clapping and singing the national anthem asfireworks shot into the air over the crowd.

Similar scenes were witnessed outside the mainpresidential palace where euphoric protesters shouted "Egyptis Free" and "God is greatest!" as they hugged, kissed anddanced in celebration.

"We are very happy today that we were able to overcomethe dictator Hosni Mubarak. The people have overthrown theregime," said a protester, who fell to the ground, overcome byemotion.

In no mood to stop rejoicing, some clambered on top ofarmy tanks, holding the national flag, while others gatheredto have their pictures clicked alongside beaming soldiers.

Ending the 30-year-old despotic regime in the mostpopulous Arab nation, Mubarak finally resigned yesterday anddelegated power to the military.

The president handed over the administrative affairsto the Supreme Military Council. Technically, this means thatthe constitution has been frozen, the Upper and Lower Housesof Parliament dissolved and a council for transition of powerhas to be formed. These were the demands the protesters havebeen pursuing since the first day.

The army has also vowed it would lift the three-decadeold emergency law once the protesters evacuate Tahrir Square.

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