Egyptians in UAE say battle is half won; look forward to fair polls

Military starts removing barricades in Cairo; world reacts as protestors celebrate new dawn

Even as Egyptians across the world are cheering Mubarak’s exit from power those working in the UAE are of the opinion that the battle towards democracy is just half won.

“The next step is totally free and fair election with leaders who are not corrupt and who can take the country towards prosperity,” that is what all Egyptians are looking forward to, said an Egyptian working as a journalist in the UAE.

Another Egyptian national, Ahmad Galal, who works in Abu Dhabi said he terribly missed being present at Tahrir Square and being a part of the history.

“It is definitely a missed opportunity. I would have been the happiest person to be there, participating in the people’s movement towards change. Today I am proud of the young and old Egyptians who mobilised themselves and forced out the regime. They managed to do what we could not,” said Galal.

Wael Ghonim, the Google executive in the UAE who helped organize the protest movement and emerged as an icon to most dissenting Egyptians said, 'Egypt is going to be a fully democratic state.''

He has called upon all Egyptians from across the world to return  to Egypt to participate in the nation building process.

Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel Laureate and Egyptian opposition figure, said: "Egypt has been going down the drain for the last few weeks and we need to get it back to where it should be. We need a democratic country based on social justice."
 
Egyptian expatriates in the UAE while welcoming the call, however, said they would wait before deciding to move back.

Mahmoud Attia, working with HSBC said, “I think it is a valid plan. Every one wants to go back to their home county. But for me it is not an immediate plan. I would wait and watch the situation. Meanwhile whatever we can contribute from here, we would do so.”

According to him the change is only for the better. “Any leader will be better than  Mubarak. What we need for the future is a leader who is not corrupt,” he added.

As Galal added, “I can do more from here than by returning back to Egypt. The change is taking shape and we are all eagerly looking forward to how things will develop from here on. We need a meaningful democratic change,” he added.

Military starts removing barricades in Cairo

The Egyptian military on Saturday began removing the barricades around Cairo's Tahrir Square, the epicentre of the popular revolt that drove veteran strongman Hosni Mubarak from power.

As tanks lurched to the sides of the main roads leading into the square civilian volunteers helped the soldiers to remove the metal barriers, barbed wire and burned wrecks of cars left over from the 18-day uprising, reported AFP.

They also began dismantling the barriers around the nearby national museum, home to a treasure trove of Egyptian antiquities.

On Friday, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepped down and the vice-president named a military council to run the country's affairs, after 18 days of mass protests against his rule.

British press hails 'Berlin Wall moment'

As jubiliant cries of triumph rang out from the crowds in Cairo's Tahrir Square, world reaction was swift. Britain's newspapers on Saturday welcomed the fall of Mubarak, declaring it a defining moment in history, but there were fears too for the uncertain future of the region.

Most major nationals had pictures from Cairo's Tahrir Square on the front page."History Unfolds" 'The Times' headline proclaimed.

Mubarak's downfall had brought "joy, hope and freedom to Egypt but also the threat of uncertainty and change in a volatile region.

"It has been this generation's Berlin Wall moment."

Politics throughout the Arab World had been changed forever, 'The Times' wrote. But it warned: "What lies ahead is now far from clear... Egypt has been both a warning and an inspiration."

"You don't need to be Egyptian to celebrate today," wrote 'The Sun', Britain's top-selling daily.

"The magnificent sight of People Power finally overwhelming a corrupt dictator cheers every heart." But Egypt needed "honest, democratic, pro-Western leadership, not fundamentalism," it added. "Let's trust People Power to deliver the right result once again."

The 'Financial Times' business daily called it the "Nile Revolution", but it too focussed on the political uncertainty facing the region. "Instability is the new certainty. But opportunity is boundless, and if the West wishes to recover its standing in the Arab World it must stay firmly on the side of freedom."

Thirty years of dictatorship had gone in 30 seconds, wrote 'The Guardian'. "This is a moment of historic significance. It re-establishes Egypt as the leader of the Arab world and Egyptians at its moral core," it said. "Politically, Egypt may become more like Turkey. For Egyptians did not merely re-establish their independence from Mr Mubarak. They also demonstrated their independence from the US and its allies."

The 'Daily Telegraph' said Mubarak's fall was a momentous event for the most populous Arab nation, but the consequences for Egypt were hard to discern.  

Philippines hails 'people power' 

Meanwhile, President Benigno Aquino of the Philippines hailed the "peaceful resolution" in Egypt, comparing it to the "people power" revolt that toppled a Philippine dictator in 1986, reported AFP.

He said Filipinos stood in solidarity with Egyptians in seeking "meaningful and peaceful change," after the ouster of Mubarak.

"Egypt's people power transition shows that the aspirations for a more free and fair society are universal. As Filipinos did in 1986, Egyptians must now begin the work of rebuilding their institutions," Aquino said.

 Sydney rally

About 200 people danced and chanted in central Sydney on Saturday at a rally to celebrate the momentous fall of Mubarak after nearly three decades in control of Egypt.

Tearful members of Australia's Egyptian community hailed the country's "Internet generation", who were aided by Twitter and Facebook as they rose up against the strongman in weeks of nationwide protests.

As cries of triumph rang out from the elated crowds in Cairo's Tahrir Square, world reaction was swift and jubilant to the news that Hosni Mubarak had resigned as president of Egypt today.

China paper warns Egypt 
 
An official Chinese newspaper called for stability in Egypt after the fall of Mubarak and said foreigners should keep from intervening, offering Beijing's first reaction to the Egyptian leader's resignation.   

The comments underscored that Beijing's reaction to the upheaval in Egypt is likely to be more cautious, and more driven by concerns about its own internal control, than the welcome in Western capitals to Mubarak's resignation, reported Reuters.

"Following this extraordinary development, it is hoped that the Egyptian military, government and its people will make every effort to maintain social stability and restore normal order," the 'China Daily' newspaper said in an editorial.  

Mubarak steps down

Earlier on FRiday, 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.

"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.

The statement appeared to bring an end to constitutional rule in Egypt and invest power in a group of generals representing a military that has long been the power behind the throne in the Arab world's most populous country.

Egypt's higher military council will sack the cabinet, suspend both houses of parliament and rule with the head of the supreme constitutional court, Al Arabiya television reported on Friday.

The army statement was expected to be delivered later on Friday and followed President Hosni Mubarak's dramatic resignation after 30 years in power. 

 

UAE confirms support for Egypt and its people

The UAE issued the following statement on the latest developments in Egypt.

"The UAE, which has closely monitored developments in Egypt, confirms its confidence in the ability of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces in running the country's affairs in these delicate circumstances in such away that would realise aspirations and hopes of the Egyptian people.

"The UAE confirms that it is always keen to foster brotherly, distinguished historic ties with Egypt in a way that serves the interests of the two brotherly countries and their peoples within the framework of the UAE continuous support for Egypt and its people in all fields".

 

Mubarak leaves Cairo

A ruling party official said earlier that Mubarak and his family had left Cairo for the glitzy Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh where there is a presidential residence. He added that this proved Mubarak had handed powers to deputy Omar Suleiman.

In the morning, Egypt's powerful military gave guarantees that promised democratic reforms would be carried out but angry protesters intensified an uprising against Mubarak by marching on the presidential palace and mobbing the state television hub.

The army's gesture was an effort to defuse an 18-day-old revolt unprecedented in modern Egypt but, in ignoring the key demand of protesters for Mubarak's ouster now, it failed to stop turmoil disrupting the economy and rattling the Middle East.

Mubarak had promised only that he would not for re-election in September and that he would preside over reforms until then.

This was not enough for the many hundreds of thousands of mistrustful protesters who rallied in cities across the Arab world's most populous and influential country on Friday, fed up with high unemployment, a corrupt elite and police repression.

The escalating confrontation has raised fear of uncontrolled violence in the most populous Arab nation, a key U.S. ally in an oil-rich region where the chance of chaos spreading to other long stable but repressive states troubles the West.

TIMELINE: Countdown to the fall of Hosni Mubarak

Here is a timeline of the events in the uprising against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak who stepped down on Friday, the 18th day of protests.

Dec. 17, 2010 - In Tunisia Mohamed Bouazizi sets fire to himself in the central town of Sidi Bouzid in protest at confiscation by police of his vegetable cart. Local people demonstrate in support.

Jan. 4, 2011 - Bouazizi dies of his burns. Huge funeral adds momentum to protests against unemployment and repression.

Jan. 14 - After days of clashes in which dozens are killed, and having made empty promises of reforms and elections, Tunisia's President Zine al-Abidine Ben Al flees to Saudi Arabia.
 
Jan. 25 - Thousands of Egyptians demand an end to President Hosni Mubarak's rule and clash with police in a "Day of Wrath" inspired by Ben Ali's downfall.

Jan. 26 - In unprecedented scenes, police fight with thousands of Egyptians who defy a government ban to protest against Mubarak's rule.

Jan. 27 - Mohamed ElBaradei, reform campaigner and former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, arrives in Cairo.

Jan. 28 - At least 24 people are killed and more than 1,000 hurt in clashes throughout Egypt. Mubarak extends a curfew to all cities.
-- Mubarak orders troops and tanks into cities overnight to quell demonstrations. Thousands cheer at the news of the intervention of the army, which is seen as neutral, unlike the police who are regularly deployed to stifle dissent.

Jan. 29 - Mubarak sacks his cabinet but refuses to step down. Protesters stream back into Cairo's central Tahrir Square in the early hours after Mubarak's announcement.
-- Mubarak names intelligence chief Omar Suleiman as vice-president.
-- Thousands of protesters roam the streets after a curfew starts. Egyptians form vigilante groups to guard property against looters.
 
Jan. 31 - The army says it will not use force against Egyptians staging protests. It says freedom of expression is guaranteed to all citizens using peaceful means.
-- Egypt swears in a new government. Suleiman says Mubarak has asked him to start dialogue with all political forces.
-- Thousands in Tahrir Square hours after curfew, in a good-natured gathering, call for the president to quit.

Feb. 1 - Mubarak declares he will surrender power when his term ends in September, offering a mixture of concessions and defiance in a televised statement.
-- Around one million Egyptians protest throughout the country for Mubarak to step down immediately.

Feb. 2 - The army calls for protesters to leave the streets and curfew hours are eased.
-- Troops make no attempt to intervene as violence breaks out between pro- and anti-Mubarak groups in Tahrir Square.
-- The government rejects U.S. and European calls for political transition to start immediately.

Feb. 3 - Gunmen fire on anti-government protesters in Cairo, where about 10 are killed and more than 830 injured in fighting. The U.N. estimates that 300 people have died in the unrest.

Feb 4 - Thousands gather in Tahrir Square to press again for an end to Mubarak's rule in a "Day of Departure".

Feb. 5 - Gamal Mubarak, son of the president, resigns from the leadership of Egypt's ruling party.

Feb. 6 - Opposition groups, including the banned Muslim Brotherhood, hold talks with the government, chaired by the vice-president. They say a core demand for the removal of Mubarak is not met. The sides agree to draft a road map for talks and a committee is set up to study constitutional issues.
-- Banks re-open after a week-long closure.

-- Thousands gather in Tahrir Square joining noon prayers to honour "martyrs" killed in the bloodshed.

Feb. 7 - State news agency MENA reports Mubarak has set up two committees to draw up changes to the constitution.
-- The stock market remains closed, to reopen on Feb. 13.
-- Opposition figures report little progress in talks with the government.

Feb. 8 - Egyptians stage one of their biggest protests.
-- Vice President Suleiman says Egypt has a timetable for the peaceful transfer of power. He promises no reprisals against the protesters.

Feb. 9 - Four people are killed and several wounded in clashes between security forces and about 3,000 protesters in the western province of New Valley, south of Cairo.
-- Pro-democracy protesters consolidate a new encampment around Cairo's parliament building as Tahrir Square remains crowded. Protesters say organisers are working on plans to move on to the state radio and television building on Feb. 11.

Feb. 10 - On the 17th day of protests against his rule, Mubarak says Egypt is heading "day after day" to a peaceful transfer of power and he was committed to protect the constitution until that happens.
-- He hands powers to his vice-president but spurned protesters' demands that he quit office immediately. He also expressed regret over protesters' deaths.

Feb. 11 - Mubarak steps down, handing over to the army and ending 30 years of rule.
-- Suleiman says a military council will run the affairs of the Arab world's most populous nation.
-- Thousands break down in tears, celebrate and hug each other chanting: "The people have brought down the regime

 

Meanwhile, President Benigno Aquino of the Philippines hailed the "peaceful resolution" in Egypt, comparing it to the "people power" revolt that toppled a Philippine dictator in 1986, reported AFP.

He said Filipinos stood in solidarity with Egyptians in seeking "meaningful and peaceful change," after the ouster of Mubarak.

"Egypt's people power transition shows that the aspirations for a more free and fair society are universal. As Filipinos did in 1986, Egyptians must now begin the work of rebuilding their institutions," Aquino said.

Sydney rally

About 200 people danced and chanted in central Sydney on Saturday at a rally to celebrate the momentous fall of Mubarak after nearly three decades in control of Egypt.

Tearful members of Australia's Egyptian community hailed the country's "Internet generation", who were aided by Twitter and Facebook as they rose up against the strongman in weeks of nationwide protests.

China paper warns Egypt 

An official Chinese newspaper called for stability in Egypt after the fall of Mubarak and said foreigners should keep from intervening, offering Beijing's first reaction to the Egyptian leader's resignation.   

The comments underscored that Beijing's reaction to the upheaval in Egypt is likely to be more cautious, and more driven by concerns about its own internal control, than the welcome in Western capitals to Mubarak's resignation, reported Reuters.

 "Following this extraordinary development, it is hoped that the Egyptian military, government and its people will make every effort to maintain social stability and restore normal order," the 'China Daily' newspaper said in an editorial.   

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