Egyptian army takes charge
CAIRO | The Egyptian military dissolved the parliament and suspended the constitution Sunday, saying it would rule the country for six months or until elections can be held, according to a statement read on state television.
The moves meet two of the key demands of protesters who had vowed Saturday to remain in Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the 18-day uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak, until all of their demands were met.
The fall of the Mubarak regime was met with elation by demonstrators who had held protests around the clock since Jan. 25. More than 300 protesters were killed and thousands were injured during the uprising, which left the Egyptian economy in shambles. But demonstrators say that the end of the regime was worth the sacrifice.
“We are looking for freedom,” said 21-year-old Shaqia Abdullah, wearing a red, black and white headband. He had been sleeping on the sidewalks in Tahrir for about two weeks. “And we know how to do it.”
Meanwhile, ripples from the popular uprising in Egypt - and in Tunisia last month - continued to be felt across the Arab world Sunday. Police in Yemen beat back thousands of anti-government protesters in the capital, Sanaa, while security forces in Bahrain set up checkpoints and patrols in anticipation of protests there. In Algeria, organizers of a large pro-reform protest over the weekend called for another massive demonstration this week.
Hailing the fall of the Mubarak regime, President Obama said, “The people of Egypt have spoken.” He also warned that the regime’s collapse marks the beginning of a difficult period for Egypt as it tries to recover economically and build a new government.
“This is not the end of Egypt’s transition,” he said in a televised speech. “It’s the beginning. I’m sure there will be difficult days ahead, and many questions remain unanswered.”
Mr. Mubarak is thought to be in Sharm el Sheik, a Sinai resort town, but rumors abound regarding his whereabouts.
Before his resignation, reports circulated that his family had amassed a fortune between $5 billion and $70 billion. That infuriated many Egyptians, who said his money was stolen from the people, 40 percent of whom live on less than $2 a day. As revelers celebrated his departure Friday night, many chanted, “We want our money back.”
Mr. Mubarak’s accounts already have been frozen in Switzerland, and Great Britain is under increased pressure to follow suit. Britain says it cannot take action without the request of Egyptian authorities or charges that Mr. Mubarak’s funds pose a threat to the U.K. Mr. Mubarak’s assets also could be frozen if he is blacklisted by the U.N. or the Europe Union, according to the Associated Press.
Many analysts expressed fears that the end of the regime would threaten the country’s peace deal with Israel, a key element to stability in the region. But on Sunday, Egypt’s ambassador to the U.S., Sameh Shoukry, told ABC News that the agreement would be upheld.
“We’ve been able to establish security and stability in the region,” he said. “And I believe it is a main element in terms of our foreign policy.”
This comes after a roller coaster weekend for Egypt.
With the country in turmoil on Thursday and thousands of teachers, railroad technicians, sanitation workers and many others on strike, most thought that Mr. Mubarak was about to announce his resignation. For hours, Tahrir Square was crowded with elated protesters, congratulating each other on their imminent victory.
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