Chants of “Get out, get out,” have morphed into cheers of “Egypt is free, Egypt is free” after Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman read a statement from President Hosni Mubarak announcing his resignation.
“President Mohammed Hosni Mubarak has decided to leave the office of the president of the republic and instructed the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to run the affairs of the country,” Suleiman said on Egyptian state television. “May God guide our steps.”
This comes after reports emerged that Mubarak Sharm el-Sheikh, where he often vacations. He and his family took off in helecopters this morning, and were greeted by the governor there.
The armed forces, who made a statement in support of Mubarak’s suprise Thursday decision not to resign, are expected to make a statement shortly.
President Obama was informed of Mubarak’s decision this morning. He is also expected to make a statement later today. In a statement yesterday, Obama questioned the vague response given by Mubarak and question what his next steps were.
Egyptians are still gathering in Tahrir Square and surrounding areas more than an hour after the annoucement to celebrate.
“This is the greatest day of my life,” Egyptian opposition leader a Mohamed ElBaradei told the Associated Press. “The country has been liberated.”
UPDATE 11:18 (CT) 7:18 Cairo- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) has issued a statement about the transition in Cairo. …although no one has any idea why.
“I am pleased that President Mubarak has heard and heeded the voice of the Egyptian people, who have called for change,” Reid said. He said “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.”
UPDATE 11:29 (CT) 7:29 (Cairo)- Watch the celebration from Tahrir Square with a live feed from the BBC.
UPDATE 11:35 (CT) 7:35 (Cairo)- After saying at the end of January that Mubarak wasn’t a dictator and that he shouldn’t step down, Today Biden called Mubarak’s resignation “a pivital moment in history.” …Face saving, anyone?
UPDATE 11:45 (CT) 7:45 (Cario) – Opposition leader Mohamed ElBardei said in a statement to Al Jazeera that he did not think Egypt should waste time trying Mubarak for his misdeeds, referring to the “daunting tasks” ahead of them that needed attention. He also said he though it would take more than a year to lay the groundwork for elections. “You have gained your liberty. You have gained your right to catch up with the rest of the world. Make the best of it,” he said.
UPDATE- 11:55 a.m. (CT) 7:55 p.m. (Cairo) – World markets are cheering along with Egyptian citizens, as stocks jump at Mubarak’s resignation.
UPDATE- 12:09 p.m. (CT) 8:08 p.m. (Cairo)- Whoops, looks like the media was wrong. Robert Gibbs says Obama did NOT speak to Mubarak this morning.
UPDATE- 12:13 p.m. (CT) 8:13 p.m. (Cairo)- Ah, the real world calls. I have a meeting. Will post a new post after the Egyptian Army makes their statement and Obama speaks. Until then, I suggest the BBC live view which I linked earlier. Don’t forget to vote in my poll.