Saturday, 12 February 2011

Egypt: Mubarak Stepped Down as President. Protesters Celebrate

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Demonstrations that began with quiet determination on the Internet more than three weeks ago erupted into riotous jubilation Friday evening, moments after Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak announced he would step aside. ending his 30-year-reign.

His downfall was as swift as it was unexpected. Mr. Mubarak had inherited and shaped a system of patronage, nepotism and brutality that seemed beyond challenge.

Egyptian armed forces will take over the leadership of the country, Vice President Omar Suleiman announced today.

Crowds gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square erupted into loud cheers, chanting "Egypt is free, Egypt is free," as the historic announcement was made.

Protesters swarmed army tanks that had been deployed to keep order, banged drums, blew whistles and frantically waved the Egyptian flag in celebration. They danced in circles and chanted.

Two men dropped to their knees and began to pray as soon as the news was announced.

"Freedom!" crowds chanted outside the white carved walls of the presidential palace.

"God is great," they shouted in Tahrir Square.

The reaction was quick to pour in across some of the same social networking sites that Egyptians used to help organize the historic protest

Mubarak's resignation comes 18 days since the beginning of protests that have left 300 dead, according to the United Nations, and rocked the region.

Men, women and children alike -- many with tears in their eyes -- flooded into Cairo's streets as the atmosphere turned from one of determination to pure ecstasy.

As protesters in Cairo's streets celebrated with joy, some demanded that Mubarak be tried.

The news has significant implications for the world and the United States. Egypt is one of the United States' closest allies in the region, a key economic partner and only one of two Arab states that recognize Israel.

Mr Mubarak survived at least six assassination attempts. The narrowest escape was in 1995 when his limousine came under attack in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, where he was attending an African summit.

Members of the largest opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, were frequently put in jail, where torture was common.

The intelligence services were pervasive and Egyptians felt stripped of dignity.

Criticism from human rights groups was routine.

Mr Mubarak presided over a period of domestic stability and economic development that meant most of his fellow countrymen accepted his monopolisation of power in Egypt.

Egypt became one of the top recipients of U.S. aid. The billions of American dollars helped enrich a new elite as the country moved away from socialism to an economy that is somewhat more capitalist but led by state-sanctioned monopolies.

But little of that wealth filtered down to the country's poor majority, and some of the grievances that mounted against his regime took on an anti-American tone.

Mr. Mubarak was neither charismatic nor communicative. He made little effort to explain his policies to his people and avoided the bold maneuvers favored by his predecessors.

Instead, his genius lay in maintaining Egypt's status quo in the face of at-times daunting pressures from within and without. That strategy did him well much of his career.

But he ignored calls for political opening and significant economic change, ultimately allowing stability—the hallmark of so much of his reign—to degrade into stagnation that bred frustration among younger Egyptians.

It was a system based not on ideology or leadership qualities, Aladdin Elaasar wrote in his book "The Last Pharaoh," but on "a mixture of fear and rewards to his collaborators." In other words, he wrote, "a neo-sultanic regime."

Mr. Mubarak's rule allowed modest freedoms but was characterized by sporadic periods of brutal repression. His police beat and tortured suspects and sent thousands to prison for long terms.

He survived many previous threats to his hold on power. He successfully crushed a bloody insurrection by violent Islamists in the 1990s and a growing prodemocracy protest movement that gained steam in 2003 to 2005.

His victory in Egypt's first multicandidate presidential election, in 2005, was marred by what independent monitors called massive fraud. His chief rival was jailed after the vote.

Mr. Mubarak parried Washington's attempt to force substantive democratic reforms on Egypt, made most forcefully during the years of the George W. Bush administration.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

For how long. Look at all those countries that saw change through People's Power' The ruling class in Egypt has made a 'strategic withdrawl'. They will change their attire and come back with a vengence or they will negotiate for immunity from prosecution before they hand over power to the new ruling class and the cycle will continue.
We must have strong institutions of government to prevent the ruling class form stealing state funds. The law must be unleashed so that action can be taken just as action is so quickly taken when a man who steals a chicken. I hope our leaders are following the events in Egypt. The reform promised by PM when he assumed office has been stalled.Polititicians have gone on their merry ways by creatng shotrcuts.The People in the rural areas including those in FELDA settlements have resigned themselves to their fate.This does not bode well for democracy in this country. The civil service at best is shordy and our Main Stream Media has been weakened by the dubious proxy ownership by the ruling class. Interett is being threatened. This means that flow of information will be rstricted while the ruling calss adds fuel to the noxious cocktail of nepotisism, cronyism and authoritarian rule.Once this is done government contracts will become even a greater source of scandalous corruption and bank negara which has a Governor who has got every known award in the world for Centeral Bankers will close both her eyes as our money is stashed away in the banks in Singapore and the First World.

These banks will welcome the free money. Imagin if the paid up capital of your bank is US One Billion and you have and inactive deposit of US one billion in your bank. And to rub salt the bank will charge the depositor a fee to protect his money.