Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman announced today on state television that President Hosni Mubarak has ‘stepped down,’ and Egypt will now be run by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces pending the establishment of a new democratic republic. Following the announcement, street protesters throughout Cairo erupted into cries of, “Egypt is free!”
This follows eighteen days of unprecedented protests on the streets of Egypt’s main cities against Mubarak’s thirty-year rule. Mubarak was widely expected to step down in a televised speech yesterday, but he did not do so. Some time after the speech, he fled Cairo for the Red Sea resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh. His current disposition is unknown.
Although the official announcement characterized Mubarak as having ‘resigned’ the Egyptian Presidency, all indications are that this was a bloodless military coup. The military had lent tacit support to the widespread street protests, and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces had begun meeting without Mubarak on Thursday although Mubarak was still technically its leader. The Council has stated through official channels that it will only run the country during the transition period between governments, and would stand aside once a new civilian government is established.
President Barack Obama (D) issued a statement lending support to the establishment of a democratic republic in Egypt. Unconfirmed reports indicate that the U.S. Department of State will be providing assistance to Egyptian officials and groups toward their establishing free institutions and elections.
UPDATE; 2/13/2011, 10:25am: The military council has dissolved the Egyptian parliament and suspended the constitution. It has announced that it will run Egypt for six months or until new elections can be held.