Elation in Egypt as Mubarak steps aside

By staff writers
11 Feb 2011

President Hosni Mubarak's three decades of dictatorship came to an end this evening, as the Egyptian leader finally bowed to popular opinion.

The streets of all the major cities of Egypt were filled with people celebrating as soon as the news was announced.

Only yesterday, Mubarak had said that he would stay until September to ensure an 'ordered hand-over' of power - but it became clear overnight that the masses of peaceful demonstrators were not going to be satisfied.

Tonight, Switzerland announced that it had frozen all the accounts belonging to the Mubarak family. Pressure will now come upon the American government and some European ones, including Britain, to follow suit.

Mr Mubarak came to power after the highly regarded President Anwar Sadat was assassinated by Islamic hardliners following his initiation of a peace deal with Israel.

He was Sadat's deputy, but then embarked upon a programme of repression, including 30 years of 'emergency measures', which will now be repealed, it is hoped and believed.

The question of how a different, more representative government is formed is now coming to the fore - but this evening the emphasis is definitely on celebration.

The military are effectively in control of the country at the moment, though army leaders have said that they will not seek to impose martial rule, and have been predominantly sympathetic to protesters over the past 18 days.

The demise of President Mubarak, along with change in Tunisia and growing pressure in Yemen and elsewhere, amounts to epochal change in the Middle East.

The fact that the change was largely nonviolent and peaceful is also hugely significant, say political analysts - indicating that in a world of military and monetary might, people power can still assert itself.

As for 'what next?', that will be down to the development of a credible political process, seeking to create a common framework for elections, governance and administration.

Regular Ekklesia contributor and respected political, legal and ecumenical analyst Dr Harry Hagopian will be discussing the aftermath of Egypt's revolution on the BBC Radio 4 'Sunday' programme on the morning of Sunday 13 February 2011. Details here: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/14143

[Ekk/3]

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