Cairo's streets exploded in joy on Friday when President Hosni Mubarak stepped down after three-decades of autocratic rule and handed power to a junta of senior military commanders.
A grim-faced and ashen vice-president Omar Suleiman announced the handover on state television after an extraordinary national outpouring of rage brought more than a million furious demonstrators onto the streets.
“Taking into consideration the difficult circumstances the country is going through, President Mohammed Hosni Mubarak has decided to leave the post of president of the republic and has tasked the supreme council of the armed forces to manage the state's affairs,” Suleiman said.
A free and fair presidential election has been promised for September after a momentous 18 days that rocked Egypt.
Earlier, the 82-year-old strongman had flown out of Cairo to his holiday retreat at Sharm el-Sheikh on the Red Sea, his ruling party said. Mubarak's 30 years in power
As news spread cries of “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest) and howls of victory rang out in the streets of the capital and firecrackers exploded.
World oil prices slid and European stock markets bounced following news of the resignation of Mubarak. Read story
In Tahrir Square, several protesters fainted with the emotion of the moment following two weeks of protest. The plaza has become a focal point of the revolt since it was occupied by protesters in late January, and earlier in the day had been thronged by hundreds of thousands of Egyptians, who prayed and chanted abuse at Mubarak. ( Jubilation: Read story )
"People here don't care if he's in the palace or not. We want him to quit the presidency,” said 40-year-old Mohammed Hamdan, who works for an oil firm.
AFP: On Thursday night, hundreds of thousands had crowded into the square to hear a speech that was widely expected to be Mubarak's last as president.
Instead, he delegated some of his powers to Suleiman, while vowing he would stay in office until September and one day die in Egypt, ruling out a flight into exile.
Mubarak had also been on a collision course with the international community, and in particular Egypt's key ally and donor, Washington.
US President Barack Obama reacted with a flash of anger of his own, saying Mubarak had failed to map out “meaningful or sufficient” change, or to speak clearly enough to Egypt and the world.