Mubarak relents, steps down

MUBARAK RELENTS, STEPS DOWN…. Egyptians were told yesterday that the protestors would get what they wanted and that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak would relinquish power. Last night, Mubarak delivered a bizarre speech, vowing to stay in office until September, which only enraged Cairo and exasperated the West.

Today, however, 18 days after protests erupted in Egypt, those clamoring for democracy successfully forced their government’s hand — Mubarak has relinquished the presidency and fled Cairo.

President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt turned over all power to the military, and left the Egyptian capital for his resort home in Sharm el-Sheik, Vice President Omar Suleiman announced on state television on Friday.

The announcement, delivered during evening prayers in Cairo, set off a frenzy of celebration, with protesters shouting “Egypt is free!”

The Egyptian military issued a communique pledging to carry out a variety of constitutional reforms in a statement notable for its commanding tone. The military’s statement alluded to the delegation of power to Vice President Omar Suleiman and it suggested that the military would supervise implementation of the reforms.

Watching Al Jazeera English, viewers were told. “The people have brought down the regime. History in the making.”

Update: Here’s a live stream showing the streets of Cairo, as Egyptians celebrate this extraordinary occasion. (via The Maddow Blog)

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