Hosni Mubarak stepped down as president of Egypt and handed power to the military, bowing to the demands of protesters who have occupied central Cairo for the past 18 days demanding an end to his 30-year rule.
“Mubarak has decided to relinquish the office of the presidency,” said Vice President Omar Suleiman in a statement on state television late today. “He has instructed the Supreme Council of the armed forces to take over the affairs of the country.”
Tens of thousands of protesters who crowded into Cairo’s central Tahrir Square after dark greeted the announcement with a roar of delight before dancing, singing and waving the national flag. Outside the presidential palace in Heliopolis, a suburb, cars honked their horns while a crowd of thousands chanted: “The people have toppled the regime.” The resignation came after Egyptians streamed out of Friday prayers vowing to oust Mubarak, 82, after he yesterday defied calls for him to leave for the second time this month.
He could have had a graceful exit, but decided to talk tough publicly and then abdicate privately.