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After Nightlong Celebrations, Army Begins Removing Barricades

Cairo, Feb 12: Joyful Egyptians in thousands were still holding celebrations as dawn broke in the Egyptian capital singing and dancing in the streets as the country's Army began removing the barricades around the famous
PTI February 12, 2011 15:42 IST
PTI
Cairo, Feb 12: Joyful Egyptians in thousands were still holding celebrations as dawn broke in the Egyptian capital singing and dancing in the streets as the country's Army began removing the barricades around the famous Tahrir Square, the hub of the popular revolt that toppled the despot Hosni Mubarak from power after three decades.

Revellers still occupied the Square this morning after a nightlong celebrations, but units from the Army began to clear the area to dismantle the barriers, with the protesters divided whether to continue or abandon their 18-day old occupation of the area.

Seventy-five-old Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi who heads the Supreme Council of the Armed forces and has assumed command in the country was expected to make a statement about plans to form a transitional government.

In its third statement so far, the Council said that it would respect the mood of the people.

"The Council will issue further statements that will announce forthcoming steps, measures and arrangements, and it affirms at the same time that it is not a replacement for the legitimacy that is acceptable to the people".

While some of the protesters headed home victorious, but others kept on the vigil vowing to be there till the transition to civilian rule was complete.

"Some of us want to return home. Others want to stay on to guard our victory. We are forming a Facebook group to keep in touch", a protester who was going home said.

Another democracy vigilante declared, "We propose to return and meet here each year on January 25 the start of the protest".

Most of the thousands gathered there described the announcement of stepping down of Mubarak as the "most momentous day of their life".

The Army lifted all the barricades on the road adjacent to the museum. The soldiers and civilian volunteers also cut metal barriers and barbed wire as cranes took away torched vehicles.

The Army Supreme Command Council is yet to announce concrete plans for the transition to democracy Throughout the night it was an unending celebrations with people pouring into the streets--dancing, cheering and congratulating each other as they rejoiced the long-awaited ouster of Mubarak.

Moments after the announcement, a wave of joy swept across the country, with cars lining up and honking and people waiving the Egyptian flag.

In Cairo, people flooded the city's central Tahrir Square, the epicentre of the massive 18-day protest against Mubarak's regime, clapping and singing the national anthem as fireworks shot into the air over the crowd.

Similar scenes were witnessed outside the main presidential palace where euphoric protesters shouted "Egypt is Free" and "God is greatest (Allahu Akbar)!" as they hugged, kissed and danced in celebration.

"We are very happy today that we were able to overcome the dictator Hosni Mubarak. The people have overthrown the regime," said a protester, who fell to the ground, overcome by emotion.

In no mood to stop rejoicing, some clambered on top of army tanks, holding the national flag, while others gathered to have their pictures clicked alongside beaming soldiers.

Ending the 30-year-old despotic regime in the most populous Arab nation, Mubarak finally resigned yesterday and delegated power to the military.

The president handed over the administrative affairs to the Supreme Military Council. Technically, this means that the constitution has been frozen, the Upper and Lower Houses of Parliament dissolved and a council for transition of power has to be formed. These were the demands the protesters have been pursuing since the first day.

The army has also vowed it would lift the three-decade old emergency law once the protesters evacuate Tahrir Square. PTI