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Protestors Celebrate

Egypt's President steps down

Feb 11, 2011

After 3 decades of ruling over Egypt, President Hosni Mubarak resigned today (Friday, February 11, 2011). Vice President Omar Suleiman made the announcement on state TV after evening prayers saying, “President Hosni Mubarak has decided to step down from the office of President of the republic and has charged the high council of the armed forces to administer the affairs of the country.”

As soon as the 30-second broadcast was heard, protestor began celebrating with high emotion in Tahrir Square, where the sound of firecrackers was often drowned out by the deafening roar of the jubliant crowds as they waved their banners in triumph.

Check out CNN's full coverage and the latest tweeted updates from their correspondents on the ground:

Update 9:27 p.m. in Cairo, 2:27 p.m. ET: Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh called Egypt "a pillar in the region" and sent along "wishes for stability, security, and prosperity." In a Twitter message, he said Jordan "respects free choice" of Egyptians and has confidence in the military to lead the country toward a "new era."

Update 9:24 p.m. in Cairo, 2:24 p.m. ET: CNN Senior International Correspondent Ben Wedeman shared his personal reactions to the day's events through a series of messages on Twitter:

I think everyone in Egypt is either in or coming to Tahrir. ... Thank god cairo back to normal. Blaring horns, crazy traffic, people everywhere!!! ... Everyone even soldiers are celebrating ... egypt's love of noise on display ... If Egypt could overthrow a 30-year old dictatorship in just 17 days (I don't have enough characters to ponder the rest) ... Two weeks ago the police pulled out of Cairo, the Army moved in. Today President Mubarak resigns. My head is spinning. ... This revolution couldn't have happened to better people. Patient, peaceful, good-humored, resilient, imaginative. ... The Mubarak regime miscalculated the people of #Egypt from day one (#Jan25). No matter what regime did, the people always won.

Update 8:58 p.m. in Cairo, 1:58 p.m. ET: China "understands and supports Egypt's efforts to maintain social stability and restore normal order" and believes "that the affairs of Egypt should be decided by itself independently without intervention from the outside," a Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy hailed Egypt's "historic moment" and paid tribute to Hosni Mubarak's decision to resign. France - which called for steps leading to free elections and reforms - urged Egyptians" to continue their non-violent march to freedom."

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini on Friday called the political change in Egypt an important development for the people and their democratic aspirations.

Update 8:48 p.m. in Cairo, 1:48 p.m. ET: CNN iReporters are sending descriptions, images and video from Egypt. It looks like a combination of New Year's Eve in Times Square and Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

In Alexandria, iReporter Fady captured video of celebratory fireworks being shot off.

In Cairo, iReporter Omar Sultan sent in video of people celebrating near the presidential palace.

Update 8:45 p.m. in Cairo, 1:45 p.m. ET: Hamas, the anti-Israeli Palestinian movement that controls the Gaza territory bordering Egypt, urged the new leadership in Cairo "to lift the siege of Gaza and to open the Rafah crossing and assure the free movement between Egypt and Palestine and to start the development (and) construction process of Gaza."

Update 8:33 p.m. in Cairo, 1:33 p.m. ET: A statement issued by Egypt's military council affirmed that the military will not abolish civil authority but will only control the country during the transition period between civilian governments.

The military statement also expressed appreciation for former President Hosni Mubarak's service to the country, and saluted "martyrs" of Egypt's revolution.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon says he respects "the difficult decision" for Hosni Mubarak to step down as president of Egypt and he reiterated a call for an "orderly, peaceful transition."

The United Arab Emirates says it's confident in the ability of Egypt's military to run "the country's affairs in these delicate circumstances."

Update 8:09 p.m. in Cairo, 1:09 ET: Switzerland has frozen "all possible assets" of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his circle, a government official said Friday.

Update 8:03 p.m. in Cairo, 1:03 p.m. ET: President Barack Obama did not talk to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak or Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman before Friday's announcement of Mubarak's resignation, according to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday called the events in Egypt "irreversible" and said in the end there must be free elections. She also said Germany expects future Egyptian governments to honor the peace treaty with Israel.

British Prime Minister David Cameron hailed the bravery of the Egyptian protesters and said there must be "civilian and democratic rule as part of this important transition to an open, democratic and free Egypt."

The toppling of the Egyptian "pharaoh" has "joyfully" coincided with the anniversary of Iran's Islamic Revolution in 1979, Iran's semi-official Fars News Agency said Friday.

Update 7:58 p.m. in Cairo, 12:58 p.m. ET: The U.S. is preparing a new package of assistance to Egyptian opposition groups designed to help with constitutional reform, democratic development and election organizing, State department officials tell TIME magazine.

Update 7:43 p.m. in Cairo, 12:43 ET: A high-ranking Egyptian military official said that discussions were under way in the Supreme Council about dismissing Mubarak's government and parliament and the timing for elections. The source said an announcement was expected later Friday.

Update 7:34 p.m. in Cairo, 12:34 p.m. ET: Opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei, a diplomat and Nobel laureate, said in remarks to Al Jazeera that he believes it could take a year for the people and army to lay the necessary groundwork for presidential and parliamentary elections.

He added that he doesn't foresee Egyptians growing impatient during the process because they endured Mubarak's rule for 30 years.

"This is a dream I have been wishing to see for the last 30 years, and it's an amazing feeling," he told the station.

ElBaradei dismissed the notion that the Mubarak regime should immediately be held accountable for any misdeeds, saying, "We will have a lot of daunting tasks ahead of us." The priority, he said, should be to "make sure the country is restored," politically and economically.

His parting message to his countrymen: "You have gained your liberty. You have gained your right to catch up with the rest of the world. Make the best of it."

Update 7:21 p.m. in Cairo, 12:21 p.m. ET: CNN iReporter Johnny Colt says the people at a coffee shop in Jordan didn't like the news out of Egypt.

Update 7:06 p.m. in Cairo, 12:06 p.m. ET: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, issued a statement urging a peaceful transition of power for the longtime U.S. ally.

"I am pleased that President Mubarak has heard and heeded the voice of the Egyptian people, who have called for change," Reid said. But "it is crucial that Mubarak's departure be an orderly one and that it leads to true democracy for Egypt, including free, fair and open elections."

"We caution all sides against violence during this transition," he added.

Update 7:03 p.m. in Cairo, 12:03 p.m. ET: Egyptian protest leader Wael Ghonim told CNN Friday the real heroes of the revolution are the young Egyptians in Tahrir Square and the rest of the country.

Update 6:49 p.m. in Cairo, 11:49 a.m. ET: Amre Moussa, the secretary-general of the Arab League, told CNN that Egyptians are "looking forward to a different future" and hoping for "a better future."

Update 6:45 p.m. in Cairo, 11:45 a.m. ET: Fireworks exploded in the sky and people honked horns as the celebration of Mubarak's resignation continued 45 minutes after the announcement, CNN's Ivan Watson reported from Cairo's Tahrir Square.

Update 6:43 p.m. in Cairo, 11:43 a.m. ET: Egyptian protest leader Wael Ghonim sent out a Twitter message saying "congratulations Egypt the criminal has left the palace."

Update 6:38 p.m. in Cairo, 11:38 a.m. ET: President Obama was informed of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's decision to step down during a meeting in the Oval Office. Obama then watched TV coverage of the scene in Cairo for several minutes. He will make an on-camera statement later today.

Update 6:36 p.m. in Cairo, 11:36 a.m. ET: The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which has been put in charge of Egypt's affairs, is expected to make an announcement shortly.

Update 6:16 p.m. in Cairo, 11:16 a.m. ET: Hosni Mubarak has decided "to step down as president of Egypt and has assigned the Higher Council of the Armed Forces to run the affairs of the country," Vice President Omar Suleiman announced.

Update 6:10 p.m. in Cairo, 11:10 a.m. ET: A military council will run Egypt in the wake of Mubarak's resignation, Egypt's vice president says.

Update 6:09 in Cairo, 11:07 ET: Demonstrators in Cairo's Tahrir Square chanted "Egypt is free!" upon hearing the news of Hosni Mubarak's resignation on Friday.

Update 6:01 p.m. in Cairo, 11:01 a.m. ET: President Hosni Mubarak has decided to step down from the presidency of Egypt, Vice President Omar Suleiman said.

Crowds across Cairo erupted in deafening cheers at the announcement.

Update 5:32 p.m in Cairo, 10:32 a.m. ET: Tanks guarding the presidential palace in Cairo turned their turrets away from approaching demonstrators, eliciting a huge cheer from the crowd, CNN's Ivan Watson reported.

Update 4:37 p.m. in Cairo, 9:37 ET: President Hosni Mubarak has gone to the Egyptian Sinai city of Sharm el-Sheikh, a well-placed source with close connections to government figures in the Gulf told CNN on Friday. There will be an "important statement" soon from the office of Egypt's president, state TV reported.

Update 4:28 p.m. in Cairo, 9:28 a.m. ET: Wael Ghonim, the Google employee whose tearful TV interview galvanized protesters, tweeted: Dear Western Governments, You've been silent for 30 years supporting the regime that was oppressing us. Please don't get involved now.

An hour earlier, Ghonim had written: Dear President Mubarak your dignity is no longer important, the blood of Egyptians is. Please leave the country NOW.

Update 4:18 p.m. in Cairo, 9:18 a.m. ET: Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has left Cairo, according to various media reports. CNN is trying to confirm this information.

Update 4:16 p.m. in Cairo, 9:16 a.m. ET: A massive demonstration has begun in the Egyptian city of Alexandria, witnesses said.

Update 3:35 p.m. in Cairo, 8:35 a.m. ET: Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood on Friday called the statements made Thursday night by President Hosni Mubarak and Vice President Omar Suleiman "completely unacceptable."

Update 2:24 p.m. in Cairo, 7:24 a.m. ET: Thousands of demonstrators protesting against President Hosni Mubarak were surrounding the headquarters of the Suez government compound after Friday prayers, witnesses said.

Update 1:17 p.m. in Cairo, 6:17 a.m. ET: So many demonstrators had swarmed around the state broadcasting corporation's headquarters in Cairo that Nile TV said employees were prevented from entering the building.

Update 12:40 p.m. Friday in Cairo, 5:40 a.m. Friday ET: Egypt's top military leaders released a statement Friday saying the nation's emergency rule will end when the current crisis passes, state television reported. The leaders said they will ensure that elections planned for September are free and fair.

Finance Minister Samir Radwan said Friday that Mubarak's "perception is that he is trying to help the process of a smooth transition." Radwan denied that the military is interfering in government affairs. Radwan said the nation risks higher budget deficits if the protests continue.

Update 11:02 a.m. Friday in Cairo, 4:48 a.m. Friday ET" Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman has asked Prime Minster Ahmed Shafiq to appoint a deputy prime minister to "lead the national dialogue," Egyptian state television reported Friday.

The presidential palace in Cairo is surrounded by soldiers, police cars and military tanks. The roads leading up to the palace were shut down Friday and the army is setting up a barbed-wire barricade.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces is meeting and will issue a statement Friday, Egypt's state news agency MENA reported.

The Egyptian army will issue a new statement Friday, state-run Nile TV reported. Nile TV said hundreds of protesters gathered around its offices on Friday and prevented employees from entering.

Update 8:02 a.m. Friday in Cairo, 1:02 a.m. Friday ET: Anti-government chants rang out in Cairo's Tahrir Square as protesters streamed in Friday morning for an 18th day of demonstrations demanding Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's resignation. Troops and tanks stood guard as protesters continued calls for an end to the leader's nearly 30-year rule.

Update 6:22 a.m. Friday in Cairo, 11:22 p.m. Thursday ET: More large anti-government protests are expected Friday in Cairo, Alexandria and elsewhere in Egypt, despite Mubarak's announcement late Thursday that he'd delegate his powers to Vice President Omar Suleiman.

Update 6:20 a.m. Friday in Cairo, 11:20 p.m. Thursday ET: U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement late Thursday that the United Nations "stands ready to assist" in the process of ensuring "genuine and inclusive dialogue with all stakeholders" in order to expedite a "transparent, orderly and peaceful transition that meets the legitimate aspirations of the Egyptian people."

Update 4:29 a.m. in Cairo, 9:29 p.m. ET: Following Mubarak's Thursday night speech, thousands of demonstrators in Cairo's Tahrir Square have been showing their defiance to his rule by lying down on the streets and sidewalks under blankets for a massive "sleep in." On one wide sidewalk, about a hundred protesters lay next to each other under blankets.

Meanwhile, a group of volunteers were working early Friday to construct makeshift homes and buildings in the square, using plywood and wooden boards. They included shower stalls and bathrooms, activist Sharif Makawi said.

Update 3:30 a.m. in Cairo, 8:30 p.m. ET: Long a pillar of Hosni Mubarak's three-decade rule over Egypt, Omar Suleiman now sits at the top of the pyramid as its de facto president. Read more about Suleiman and his gradual rise to the top.

Brush up on Mubarak's speech here and find Suleiman's speech here.

Update 3 a.m. in Cairo, 8 p.m. ET: US President Barack Obama urged the Egyptian government "to move swiftly to explain the changes that have been made, and to spell out in clear and unambiguous language" the process that will lead to democracy.

"The Egyptian people have been told that there was a transition of authority, but it is not yet clear that this transition is immediate, meaningful or sufficient. Too many Egyptians remain unconvinced that the government is serious about a genuine transition to democracy, and it is the responsibility of the government to speak clearly to the Egyptian people and the world," he said in a statement. "The Egyptian government must put forward a credible, concrete and unequivocal path toward genuine democracy, and they have not yet seized that opportunity."

Obama did not call on Mubarak to step down, but he did call for emergency law to be lifted while negotiations continue among the government, opposition parties and civil society on the country's future.

Egypt's President steps down
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