tv BBC World News PBS February 11, 2011 2:30pm-3:00pm PST
major corporations. what can we do for you? >> and now, "bbc world news." >> president hosni mubarak has decided to step down as the president of the republic. >> victory celebrations for it aegis popular uprising. hosni mubarak is no longer president. >> now we are egyptians. now we are egyptians. >> president mubarak has left cairo with his family for his egyptian seaside palace as the military takes over power. the u.s. president barack obama has called on the country's military to ensure a tradition
-- transition to genuine democracy. >> a very warm welcome to bbc world news america and around the globe. in a dramatic turn of events, the egyptian president hosni mubarak has stepped down. the announcement came after 2.5 weeks of huge street protests in cairo and other cities. it was greeted with ecstatic jubilation. the power now rests with egypt's armed forces. >> welcome to the egyptian capital cairo, a country which exploded in celebration hours ago with the announcement that president hosni mubarak, president for the last 29 years, was resigning and that the army,
the military council was not taking over. this may now be a military rule in egypt, but in the streets below, not just in cairo but in cities across this country, the people feel that the victory is theirs. as i look in all directions from where we are broadcasting it again tonight, the streets are absolutely packed with traffic. a long line of lights and horns blaring, the flags are waving everywhere you go. people are waiting the egyptian flag, shouting egypt, egypt, long live egypt. a great outpouring of pride among egyptians that have achieved something by demanding but they believed was their right to a democracy, and the president finally listened and stood down. let's just look at these dramatic developments that have unfolded in the past few hours with this report from christian frazier. >> the reaction in the square,
the anger and resentment that had spread to every corner of this nation dissipated in a second with these words from the vice president. >> in these grave circumstances that the country is passing through, president hosni mubarak has decided to leave his position as president of the republic and asked the supreme council of the armed forces to run the country. for 18 days, he has shown this the resolve that has kept him in power for 30 years, but now it seems his speech to this square on thursday evening was the final moment. >> i see a brighter future. before that i don't see any beecher. there was no future for us. >> it is the high council of the military that holds the power.
for many of these people, this is only a battle half won. >> earlier in the day, hosni mubarak was already on his way out. once again, there was no resistance from the soldiers guarding the building. mubarak is illegitimate, they shouted. they 18 and another massive show of force. >> see how many people are there? there is no confusion. everybody wants him to leave. whatever happened yesterday, happen for 30 years now. >> with no government of any note, the real debate on the country's future is right here
in the square. he said exchanges among protesters. this is democracy at work, but can they now move it from the square to higher institutions of state? throughout the day, the state was occupied by the members of the opposition. the army is with us or is with the regime, they shouted. but tonight, the mood is more one of jubilation. this is the second deposed president in as many months. the repercussions can be felt much wider than egypt's shores. >> the mood of jubilation, as he reported, and it was dramatically different just 24
hours ago when president hosni mubarak addressed the nation, speaking, he said, as a father to his sons and daughters, saying his promise that he would ensure a peaceful and orderly transition, but saying that he had to stay in power for now. and then there was the fear today that there could be violence today, but all that has been exploding tonight are firecrackers and eruptions of joy. we heard statements from many of the country's new leading positions, many who would like now to payroll in the transition to a democracy. they include the egyptian nobel laureate mohammad al verify. -- mohammad al verifbaradei par> for the first time, egypt has been liberated and has put its feet on the right track toward
democracy and social justice. >> we have our new country, a high command of the armed forces running the country's affairs. that is run by the field marshal who is 79 years old and is known to be against reform. what is your response to that? >> i have to clarify, i understand it will be the whole military leadership. i also understand we are going to reach out to the wide sectors of the egyptian society. i hope we will have a government of national unity and have time to prepare for genuine and free elections. i don't think we are growing to replace president mubarak by another individual. >> let me be clear, the
statement from the vice president says that the high command of the armed forces is now tasked with running the country's affairs. are you comfortable with that? >> with the mess we are in for the last two or three weeks, i asked for the army intervention. i ask for the army to intervene. this is a state of emergency. i think the army had duty to save egypt from going down the drain, but it does not mean they are there forever. they are there to help insure the stability during the transitional period and transfer power to civilian democratic government. >> he was speaking about some of the difficult questions,
real challenge is that still lie ahead. for many egyptians tonight, it is a night to celebrate, most of all in tahrir square which has been the epicenter of the last 18 days of protests. let's go back to the square now. my colleague is there. describe just how the square is now. earlier, thousands were still streaming into the square to celebrate. >> is still the same. it is getting late in the evening here, 11:00, and the temperature is dropping, but there are still hundreds and thousands of joyful, celebrating egyptians down in tahrir square. there could be a lot of people bedding down again for the night. some do not quite bring their work is finished and they need to protect the square as well as protect their positions in the square until they are sure what was going to come next. the overwhelming movement down
in the square doubt -- the overwhelming mood is a positive one. there is a whole cross-section of egyptians down in the square , working class, middle class people, some people well educated, some others not, men and women, religious and secular, and people from all walks of life. it is not based on one sector of society and one small part of the country. it did have the feel of being a nationwide popular movement. although it times it seemed like more of a massive, moving object, but it was a movement that many people felt was not going to succeed, especially in the dark days a week and a half ago when people were being shot dead in the square are on the outskirts of the square.
a lot of that has not been forgotten, but put to one side. correc>> in the midst of a hugef flags and people, there is still the army manning the tanks can and armored personnel around the square, which has just exploded tonight. >> the role of the army has been crucial throughout this period there are people down there climbing on tanks, hugging soldiers. the army is a very positive one, if you look at what is happening in the square. they said quite early on that they would not fire on people. remember on that fateful night when anti-government protesters clashed in the square and a lot of people were killed. the army was not intervene to stop the fighting, but ever since then they have held a very
difficult middle line between the government, the state, and the people. it is now very much seen as the people's army. that relationship is a very strong one, and if that strong relationship can be maintained in the coming weeks and months, perhaps it democratic future will be guaranteed, if that relationship between the army and the people can also be guaranteed. >> thank you for joining us in the square where the rallying cry has been from the start, president mubarak must go, and so he did today, earlier. we heard that the president and his wife had boarded helicopters and headed for their home in the egyptian red sea resort. the man who had ruled country for the past 29 years, the war hero, the former air force commander who took over after on
or set of -- after anwar sadat was assassinated for his peace treaty with israel. let's just look back at his life and times here in egypt. >> hosni mubarak, for so long a pivotal ally of the west, in a troubled region, was increasingly despised by his people and his authoritarianism, for the corruption in his regime, and the brutality of his security forces. it was amid turmoil that hosni mubarak became president when his predecessor was assassinated beside him. stability became a watchword of his rule, at the expense of human rights. hosni mubarak was a military man, a pilot who helped rebuild each of air force after it was destroyed in 1967. six years later, mubarak's
pilots helped egyptians crossed the suez canal and restore national pride. as president, he maintained a peace treaty signed by egypt and israel in 1978. that won him the friendship of the west and $2 billion a year in u.s. aid, but earned the enmity of it islamic extremists. a string of violent attacks led to the massacre of 68 tourists in 1997. the crackdown followed. it was not the extremists alone who suffered repression that characterized his rule. members of the muslim brotherhood, the biggest egyptian opposition group, were routinely put in jail, when torture was common. in 2005, frustration grew on the street. hosni mubarak allowed himself to the challenge for reelection for the first time. amid widespread allegations of ballot rigging, he returned to power. the criticism was mounting and the big challenge was not just by the muslim brotherhood but by
a new breed of internet savvy activists. time was running out for the man seen as egypt's modern day pharaoh. the streets of egypt erupted in protest. the people of the arab world's most populous country had shaken off decades of fear. in a series of televised addresses, president mubarak made concessions, all were too little, too late. the protesters stood their ground. their uprising swept away one of the longest serving arab rulers. >> egypt will never be the same again, those were the words of barack obama, the u.s. president, who spoke a short time ago. this is some of what he had to say. >> there are very few moments in our lives where we have the privilege to witness history taking place.
this is one of those moments. this is one of those times. the people of -- have spoken. their voices have been heard, and egypt will never be the same. by stepping down, president mubarak responded to the egyptian people's hunger for change. but this is not the end of egypt's transition, it is a beginning. i am sure there will be difficult days ahead and many questions remain unanswered, but i am confident that the people of egypt can find the answers and do so peacefully, constructively, and in the spirit of unity that has defined these last few weeks. >> it has been a struggle for the united states, and barack obama seem to keep up with the pace.
how do you think -- what was the tone he struck tonight? >> there was prose and poetry in that address. the pros was praising the egyptian military and spending hours at the white house, seeing what needs to be done, lifting emergency law, leading to constitution -- constitutional changes that will lead to free elections. then there was the poetry, the wheel of history is turning a blind in pace. the people of egypt have spoken and their voices have been heard. he records the fall of the berlin wall, and praising what has happened today. behind the scenes, officials are trying to give the impression that washington was not completely impotent during the past 24 hours, as some have suggested. i think the white house admits that it was taken by surprise when 24 hours ago, hosni mubarak did not resign, but in a briefing by the president, his
press secretary has said there were indications on friday morning in the white house and possibly spill on thursday night at the end of the story had not been written. we know for example from officials at the pentagon that defense secretary robert gates spoke by telephone to the field marshal, his egyptian counterpart, late on thursday night. we were told it was to essentially express america's concerns about hosni mubarak staying in power. they are trying very hard to give the impression that they did have some sense of what was going on and did their best to influence things. >> egyptians have also been surprised by the fast pace of events here, when protest indonesia's outdid their president there in february. egyptians began to say that they
too had lost what they describe as their wall of fear -- protests in tunisia outdid their president there in february. >> it has been two and a half weeks that have transformed egypt and maybe the world. determine protesters who defied every threat, challenging decades of authoritarian rule. i was there on that first day when young egyptians took on the riot police and shed their fears. these are amazing scenes. the police keep trying to divert the protests, and the protesters just keep pushing them back. they've used tear gas and water cannons. that have attempted to throw rocks at them and the police throw the rocks back. they just keep coming and coming. >> hosni mubarak, get out, get out. >> the police were not going to give then that easily.
three days later, the poll the crowd with a relentless barrage of tear gas. -- they pummeled the crowd. a tear-gas grenade just misses us. by the end of the day, the headquarters of the ruling party was a blaze. president mubarak said in his fighter jets to intimidate the crowds. even more bizarrely, a cavalry charge on the demonstration from horses and camels ridden by government supporters. later that night, the toughest ordeal for the protestors. a prolonged gunfire, widely suspected to come from more of
the government's paid thugs. as the demonstrators dragged away their dead and wounded, the army stood fast, refusing to take sides. in a cheerful television interview -- cheerful television interview, a google executive told of his ordeal. -- tearful television interview. >> last night at this time, with the anger and disappointment in the reaction of the protesters to what the president had said in his speech, hundreds headed to the place of the presidential palace, about 15 kilometers in the center of cairo. they are still there now, and the mood is markedly different.
tell us what is happening there tonight. >> any place that has any people together, people are just gathering it everywhere. we are at a crossroads for the metro and a few main streets. people have brought them loudspeaker systems and people are gathering in huge numbers, singing national songs from the past revolution, only this time that ashley's out like they are meeting it. you have children of all ages, just basically everyone is coming out. people standing on top of anything they can stand on, children on their fathers or mothers shoulders. it is a festival, really. that is the only way i can describe it.
>> we did note that there are people living there who are very much supporters of president mubarak. are they staying in their homes tonight? the sense that they are divided tonight? >> not at all, not at all. people are honking their horns in the same rhythms that usually do during weddings after taking a bride and groom to go and get married. people are just smiling at each other. it is a festival all around. there has not been an area where i have felt it to be any different. i have been around quite a few places tonight.
>> where is the army tonight? yesterday there was a strong presence of the army on the streets there. >> they are still present, but it is not really very noticeable. probably the army are at relief because as far as i understood it from the people i know in the army, they were very divided among themselves. as far as i know, they were ordered twice to shoot on the protesters and the lower rank officers refused to carry out the orders of their superiors. i think they are just basically letting everyone celebrate. people are not really caring about what is going to be going on tomorrow. they just want to stay in the moment, as far as i can feel. >> we will let you get back to
the celebrations in the center of cairo where the presidential palace is situated. that put these extraordinary events unfold in egypt in some perspective. our correspondent joins us from jerusalem. many have wondered whether what happened in tunisia could happen here in egypt. the symbolism of president mubarak going under protest will have a huge ripple effect right across the region. >> it will. it is already having an effect here in israel, creating quite a lot of fear and anxiety in israel about what the future may hold, not just for egypt, but what might happen to other regimes in the region, particularly a concern here in israel, jordan, the other arab country that has a peace agreement, and what might happen in syria. whether people there will go on living under fairly oppressive
regimes or may take the example of egypt and also start to protest against their own governments. > >> hello and welcome. >> see the news unfold, get the top stories from around the globe and click-to-play video reports. go to bbc.com/news to experience the in-depth, expert reporting of "bbc world news" online. >> funding was made possible by the freeman foundation of new york, stowe, vermont, and honolulu. newman's own foundation. the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation. and union bank.
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> lehrer: good evening. i'm jim lehrer. egyptian president mubarak stepped down today and handed control to the military. it was a dramatic conclusion to 18 days of protests. >> woodruff: and i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight, we get the latest on this historic day from lindsey hilsum of independent television news, and our own margaret warner. they're both in cairo, where the crowd erupted in cheers when the announcement was made. >> it took us a lot, over 18