Post-Mubarak, Egypt army vows peaceful power transition (Second Lead)

February 13th, 2011 - 12:07 am ICT by IANS  

Cairo, Feb 12 (IANS) Egyptian military committed itself to oversee the peaceful transition of power Saturday, a day after Hosni Mubarak resigned as Egypt’s president after ruling the country for 30 years.The country’s new military leaders sought to allay some of those concerns with an announcement on state television Saturday, in which they promised to hand power to an elected, civilian government, Al Jazeera reported.

They also pledged to respect all international treaties - an apparent nod to the country’s 1979 peace treaty with Israel.

State television reported that the curfew in the country has been shortened and are now in effect from midnight to 6 a.m.

The developments came a day after Omar Suleiman, the vice-president, said Friday in a televised address that the embattled president was “waiving” his office, and had handed over authority to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.

Suleiman’s 50-word statement was received with a roar of approval and by celebratory chanting and flag-waving from a crowd of hundreds of thousands in Tahrir Square, as well as by other pro-democracy campaigners who were attending protests across the country.

The top figure in Egypt is now Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, the country’s defence minister and head of the supreme council.

The military council said that it was examining the situation “in order to materialise the aspirations of our great nation”.

The council spokesman said that “resolutions and statements regarding the … actions to be followed” in order to achieve the demands of the people will be handed down later.

He also extended “greetings and appreciation” to Mubarak for his service to the country, and saluted the “martyrs and those who have fallen” during the protests.

Friday night, the crowd in Tahrir Square responded to Suleiman’s statement by chanting “we have brought down the regime”.

As the Muslim call to prayer reverberated across Cairo Saturday, the sound of horns honking in jubilation could still be heard as millions celebrated the fall of Mubarak, Al Jazeera reported.

After 18 days of rallies at Cairo’s Tahrir Square, resisting police assaults and a last-ditch raid by Mubarak supporters, people packed not just the epicentre but every street and neighbourhood of the capital. Similar was the scene in other cities and towns across the country.

Popular opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei, hailed the moment as being “a dream come true”.

“I can’t tell you how every Egyptian feels today,” he said. “We have been able to restore our humanity … to be free and independent”.

Ayman Nour, another opposition figure and a former presidential candidate, told Al Jazeera that he would consider running for the presidency again if there was consensus on his candidacy.

He said February 11, 2011 is “the greatest day in Egyptian history”.

Amr Moussa, the secretary-general of the Arab League, said that he would resign from his post, one that he has headed for about 10 years, “within weeks”. Some analysts say he may well run for the Egyptian presidency when elections are held.

According to DPA, thousands of people again gathered Saturday in Tahrir square, with many helping tidy up the area after the all-night celebrations that followed the departure of the 82-year-old leader.

Civilians and soldiers removed road blocks in and around the square. They also cleaned the streets and garden areas around the square, surrounded by graffiti reading “Egypt is free”.

“This is just a start. Now, it’s our chance to have a real role in re-building our country,” said Mariam, a medical student, as she helped her friends in the cleanup work.

Businesses and banks are expected to open for normal operation Sunday, the first day of the work week in Egypt after the end of Mubarak’s regime.

Cairo stock exchange officials said their bourse would reopen Wednesday, after being closed for nearly three weeks, DPA reported.

Also Saturday, senior government officials were banned from travelling outside Egypt without permission in a bid to stop them from escaping possible corruption charges, airport officials said.

Senior businessmen and former ministers had already been hit earlier with travel bans and asset freezes.

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