Mubarak quits as Egypt president, hands over power to military council

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Cairo, Feb.12 (ANI): Hosni Mubarak has resigned as the president of Egypt and handed power to the country's key military council, leadint to widespread celebrations in the streets of the country on Friday.

"The people have toppled the regime," chanted protesters, whose 18 days of swelling protests forced the 30-year-long autocratic government to quit.

At the presidential palace in Cairo, where demonstrators had gathered in the thousands, people flashed the V-for-victory sign and shouted, "Be happy, Egyptians, today is a feast" and "He stepped down."

They handed out candy. Many prayed and declared: "God is great."

Crowds packed Tahrir (Liberation) Square, the scene of massive protests against Mubarak that began on January 25. The celebrations continued early Saturday, with throngs of people milling around in downtown Cairo.

"Egypt is free. We are a great people and we did something great. This is the expected end for every dictator," said one demonstrator.

Others warned that Egypt still faces many challenges, including how to go about ensuring a peaceful transition to free elections and a full democracy.

Some soldiers joined the crowd in the square to celebrate. Protesters lifted them onto their shoulders. Other troops stayed at their posts, watching the scene in awe.

People posed with them for photographs in front of tanks. Flag-waving children climbed onto the vehicles.

The protesters' barricades that had controlled entry to the square were dismantled, and security checkpoints at which demonstrators showed identification and had their bags searched were also gone.

Till Thursday, there was no sign that Mubarak would demit office. People were shocked to hear him say he would transfer power to his deputy, Vice President Omar Suleiman, but would keep the title.

Angry and disappointed, thousands of protesters fanned out across the city on Friday.

Vice President Suleiman then announced that his boss had resigned.

In Tahrir Square, protesters heard the announcement on mobile telephone radios that they passed back and forth. They broke into cheers and some formed a conga line, winding through the packed area.

"Goodbye, Goodbye," demonstrators shouted. They beat drums and waved national flags.

In some neighborhoods, women on balconies ululated with the joyous tongue-trilling used to mark weddings and births. Others sang the national anthem.

State television, a bastion of support for the Mubarak regime, began reporting the celebrations across the nation.

It was a big change for state television, which had spent most of the last days of the uprising trying to portray the demonstrators as a minority.

Mubarak's departure, said the station was a sign that Egyptians were capable of making their own history.

Several hundred thousand protesters cheered outside the presidential palace of Ras el-Tin in coastal Alexandria.They also waved flags, whistled and danced.

People in the southern city of Assiut fired guns in the air as they roamed the streets on motorcycles or pickup trucks. Coffee houses distributed free sweet drinks to anyone who walked by. (ANI)

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