tv BBC World News PBS February 12, 2011 12:30am-1:00am PST
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>> and now, "bbc world news." >> joy and jubilation in egypt as president mubarak finally steps down from power. >> egypt is a free country. and we will prove to the whole world that we will be a very strategic country where we control the middle east and we control -- and we will never be beaten by anyone. and we are free. >> signs of the people, 18 days of protests, 30 years of authoritarian rule to an end. all power now rests with the military. the generals say they will guarantee reform. president obama welcomes mubarak's departure saying it's just the beginning of ejiment's transition to democracy. -- egypt's transition to democracy. >> the people have spoken, their voices and egypt will never be the same. >> but as the protesters continue to celebrate in cairo's tahir square, many are
asking what will happen now? >> welcome to bbc news. broadcasting in the u.k. and right around the world. there are scenes of rejoicing across egypt as hundreds of thousands of people celebrate the news of their president, hosni mubarak, has resigned after 30 years in power. the vice president oscar suleiman announced on television that the military had been placed in charge of the country. prompting a devinning roar of approval from the -- deafening roar of approval from tahir square. this is the scene in that square now. it's just after 6:00 local time there. many reluctant to go home. wanting to ensure their place in history. our middle east editor jeremy bowen looks back at the last day of hosni mubarak's presidency.
>> in the end, the announcement came suddenly and in tahir square they were taken by surprise. the news only took a few seconds to sink in. people who had been leaving after another long day of demonstrating turned around and pushed their way back into the square. it was uninhibited, raucous joy. >> egypt is a free country. and we will prove to the whole world that we will be a very strategic country where we control the middle east and we control -- and we will never be beaten by anyone. and we are free. >> several hundred thousand people were still in tahir square. some immediately started the evening prayer. plenty just cheered and danced
instead. this revolution has been supported by all kinds of egyptians. the pieus, secular, atheists, christians and muslims. power has been handed to the army, the military has been at the heart of the regime they hate. they wanted now to deliver them a democracy led by civilians. >> i just hope it's a civil state and becomes a civil state and the army with democracy and today we brought our sons to see this historic moment. he will read about this in books when he grows up. >> they always said who controls tahir square controls cairo. tonight, they feel all of egypt belongs to them. this morning, the exhaustion was showing among the protesters at the state television and radio center. about half a mile from tahir square. the new arrivals kept it going,
though. waving shoes has become a universal symbol of contempt for leaders in arab countries. the army has a building heavily defended. but the protesters were allowed to gather on their side of the barbed wire. plenty of them were hoping the army would give the president a final push out of office. they paralyzed the center of cairo but their message is not getting through to the regime. their challenge is to keep the pressure on president mubarak and to increase it if they can. the noon press will start in a couple of minutes. the sermon said you are in the heart of the battle now. we must change the regime that never listens. the soldiers prayed alongside them. the protests here meant the demonstrations were spreading. and they cult the building off. depriving the regime of yet another of the tools that was used to control the people.
then in late afternoon, in jammed tahir square, some signs of movement. there's an important announcement coming from the presidency soon, he said. they gathered for once in almost perfect silence around the loudspeakers. but it was another anti-climax. the news reader says president mubarak had left for sharm el-sheikh. the red sea resort. but shortly afterward, omar suleiman, the vice president, made the announcement they wanted to hear. >> president hosni mubarak has decided to step down as the president of the republic. and i have instructed the high council of the armed forces to carry out the feeling of the country.
my god help us. >> 30 seconds on television, and president mubarak's 30 years of rule. and the party began. egypt brutalized and stagnating under president mubarak has regained its position as the leader of the arab world. thanks to its people. the fall of president mubarak is a moment of great historical significance. not just for egypt but for this entire region. in just over two weeks, the people have taken on a brutal police state and overthrow an authoritarian leader who appeared to be in control. their achievement will change the middle east. >> they're feeling very good about the future but it might not be easy. egyptians have won the first battle. now they want to change the system that sustained president mubarak. tonight, they deserve their
celebration. tomorrow, the hard work starts again. jeremy bowen, bbc news, cairo. >> in washington, president obama said the egyptian people had made it clear that nothing less than genuine democracy would carry the day. >> 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 egypt have spoken. and 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's a beginning. i'm 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. >> our world affairs editor john simpson is also in cairo and spoke about how important the events in egypt are to the region as a whole. >> i think it's difficult to overstate the importance of this. not actually just for the region although clearly it's a profound importance to the middle east and beyond. but to the world at large, this, i fully believe, is the 21st century's equivalent of for instance the revolutions in eastern europe in 1989 and an old system collapsing and being shown simply not to be relevant to the world any longer. what's happened here is young people, this is the internet generation, that's grown up, and expecting to have freedom of thought and not simply not accepting it when that freedom of thought is being prevented
by an old outdated, outmoded government. i think that this has a real significance beyond this country. and i think if i were colonel qaddafi of libya, for instance, if i were president assad of syria, or ahmadinejad of iran i don't think i would be sleeping very well tonight. and i think all this honking and hooting in the streets would be echoing in my dreams. >> and with me here in the studio is dr. mustafa, a leading member of the egyptian community here in britain. welcome to our studios. you met mubarak at one point, didn't you? are you surprised that this has come to -- the end of his career now? with him having to resign like this? >> i'm not surprised at all. because he really come from bad to worse over the years. and you could see from the last two weeks, his speeches were
really of a bitter, defiant and arrogant man who was not in touch with reality. he seemed to me -- he seemed to me very far and seemed to me through because when he would go into cairo to the parliament, in his motorcade, all the roads were kept empty for him. and sometimes he would go in ambulances because the roads would be kept for hours until the president moved from a to b. >> so john simpson there was saying that this is an old regime that meant nothing in this current world. is that a right, correct assumption do you think? >> i think it's the perfect words from john simpson. it's a well crafted words. it's true. was the soviet union breaking into pieces. >> so what happens now? will these protesters get their
democracy that they want? >> i believe so. because for a lot of reasons, the parliament has been dissolved, with the council of the upper chamber has been dissolved, the cabinet or the ministry has been dissolved. and there is a lot of steps and the police force, the people wearing the black fatigues had disappeared out of the streets. and the army itself, taking control. and i think in a very disciplined way. >> yes. let's just talk about the army briefly. we've been talking about them these last few hours. and are you happy that they are in control for the time being? they will also allow democracy to take place. given that they have a very tight financial stranglehold on egypt. >> yes. the army in egypt is basically
19th century establishment. and not really moves time a lot. the hierarchy, totally different from the bottom part of the army. and if you can see, there was a big problem, cracks in the top. and there was transverse cracks in the bottom. the lower ranks of the army officers were standing with the young people in the street wearing uniform which was -- which is a sign of danger of the army itself losing grip. so i think they did take the right measure. particularly the organizer, to keep law and order and to be trusted for the transmission of power into democracy and to help to build an institution and help that's -- and that's how it goes in next several weeks. >> mr. mustafa, many thanks for coming to see us. and this is bbc numis. still ahead counting the cost.
will egypt's economy now be able to emerge from the paralysis of these last few weeks? well, new technology has played a huge role in egypt's uprising. over the past few weeks, the bbc has been inundated with emails and video footage as this crisis unfolded. the last few hours, many people in egypt have been expressing their response online to president mubarak's standing down. dominick kane reports. >> joy unconfined. the realization for egyptians that the regime they wanted ousted had finally gone. these scenes of the celebrations in cairo were filmed by a viewer in the jubilation after the announcement. very many ordinary people have been getting in touch with the bbc to express their feelings. he said after 30 years of repression i never imagined this day would ever come. i'm 19. so i've never known any other
president. describing the scenes in tahir square, norah shalaby said everyone is jumping around and chanting. today for a celebration, tomorrow is for thinking about what comes next. we want the army to be in charge just for the transition of power. but some people are really worried. magi bifment sal -- magib salib said i hoped for a transfer of power that followed the law. and there are a few who aren't happy about the end of the mubarak presidency. rasha ragav in cairo said it's very sad news but i'm not surprised. these people chanting and shouting in the streets will soon find out the high price we have to pay. be that as it may, the egyptian army who has promised a peaceful transition to a civilian administration, its people, will be watching very closely. dominick kane, bbc nules. >> and of course there is more
on all this by going on to our bbc news website. full analysis and background and this video and audio content as well. do take a look if you have the internet. and this is bbc news. our headlines for you again. the president of egypt, hosni mubarak, has resigned after more than two weeks of mass protests against his authoritarian rule. president obama has welcomed mr. mubarak's resignation, describing it as just the beginning of egypt's transition to democracy. well, the events of the last few hours are the culmination of 18 days of protests. there's been a carnival atmosphere at times. and occasions when thugs took to the streets in the name of the president. our cairo correspondent john line looks back now on how people power won the day. >> it's been 2 1/2 weeks that have transformed egypt and maybe the world. determined protesters who
defieded 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 disperse the protesters but they just keep pushing them back. and tear gas, they've used water cannon but the protesters throw rocks at them and the police throw the rocks back. and they just come and coming and coming. pushing on forward. >> i am here. i am here. i will stay. hosni mubarak, get out! get out! >> the police were not going to give in that easily. at friday prayers three days later, they pounded the crowds with a relentless barrage of tear gas. >> we'll never stop. definitely finished. >> today. >> by god willing. >> a tear gas grenade just
misses us. >> that's what you've done. by his own people. >> by the end of the day, the headquarters of the ruling party was ablaze. the police had fled the streets of cairo. so president mubarak sent in his fighter jets to intimidate the crowd. 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 protesters. 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 back refusing to take sides. in a tearful television interview, reenergized the protests.
an internet activist and google executive told of his ordeal in government detention. the numbers swelled. within days, the protesters had pushed out from tahir square taking control of much of central cairo. tonight, massive celebrations. for many people, there's a feeling of liberation. for the moment, the military are running the country. will they daet their control? -- consolidate their control? or shepherd the move to democracy that they promised? tough questions for the future. once the party is over. john line, bbc news, cairo. >> and my colleague, nick garden, has been speaking to mohamed elbaradei about mr. mubarak's ress nation. -- resignation. >> i can't even describe the reaction. it's joy, a sense of emancipation for 85 million people. it's for the first time egypt
has been liberated and has put its feet on the right track, a country based on democracy and social justice. >> we have now in your country a high command of the arm forces running the country's affairs. that is run by field marshal ken tawi who is 79 and known to be against reform. what's your response to that? >> i have to clarify that i understand that it going to be not just -- it's going to be not just sawi but reach out to the sectors of egyptian society and sharing of power with civilians through a transition period. i hope we have a presidential council, a government of national unity, and have all the time to prepare for free elections. >> i've been talking to g.g. ibarra ham who has been
protesting -- ibrahima who has been protesting and was in the thick of the celebrations and said this will change her country, her future and the rest of her life. >> i just graduated at american university in cairo in december. and i was pretty much unemployed, jobless, con templating what am i going -- contemplating what am i going to do with my life. being an activist really doesn't pay. and now i have so many opportunities and i'm so looking forward to it. >> g.g., you've studied political science there haven't you at the university? are you confident that there will be free and fair elections? >> yes. i think -- i think the egyptian people, we all have proved that we deserve democracy. we are ready for democracy. and for the first time, we will choose our ruler. and it's truly amazing and life changing. >> but how is that democracy that you're hoping for going to
fit in with the position of the military at the moment? their financial strength and their strength as an army. >> the military is only in control not just -- i mean, not ongoing. they're just in a transition period right now. and until the constitution is reformed and political platform is open for all factions of society to nominate themselves, and really have free and fair elections, until then, the army -- the army is just pretty much overseeing the process. while not, you know, hijacking this revolution. this is not a military coup. it's plainly a popular revolution that will translate into democracy. shortly. >> yes, yes. i understand that.
but what i'm -- earlier, i also spoke to joe reuben in washington who is on the national security network and a former white house advisor. he asked him if washington is concerned that the military is in control. >> washington is pleased that the military is in control. as long as the military uses its power in the right way. and that means transition that's clear. that's transparent and has all the parties at the table and meets the demands. protesters. >> does washington think that the military can do that? and will be prepared for democracy? >> i think that frankly, this is the only institution that in egypt has the ability to pull this off. this type of transition process. where stability is maintained, where countries surrounding egypt including israel feel that the border will be secure, and that has the respect of the population. so this is the best that washington has to deal with. that said, the relationships as well are very deep and strong between the american military and the egyptian military.
so there is significant influence there. >> and that bigger question, the wider question of what is happening across that region now, washington must be watching that very closely. >> absolutely. many countries are in a moment of reflection. some turmoil. and certainly there are different degrees of expectations within the populations. all of these countries have a new future ahead of them. after what happened in cairo. and the united states has deep interests across the region. >> what about israel? do you think israel should be concerned about what's happening in egypt given the course of mubarak at least did hold that peace with egypt and israel. >> well, he did. and this is true. but it was also described as the cold peace by many israelis and there were many times when mubarak would also be critical of israeli behavior. certainly toward the palestinians. so we should not see a romancization of what the israeli view is of mubarak. mubarak was tough. many times.
so israel should watch. they should be careful to see what happens next. but they should not have fear. this is a new day that does provide opportunities for new relationships. >> following events on the streets of cairo, has been watching the celebrations among the crowds near tahir square. >> the young soldiers are still standing. they're here at one of the many entrances to tahir square. but this place is now exploding. [inaudible] they are making their own history tonight. victory of the people of the country. celebration tonight. >> i love my country. and i love the people. and i love the -- many in
egypt. i am very happy right now. i am very happy. it fell away. >> well, these are the scenes now in tahir square. protesters calling it the dawn of a new era. it's almost half past 6:00 local time there. and still after friday's historic events. the ejeppings president hosni mubarak -- the egyptian president hosni mubarak resigned following two weeks of protest against his authoritarian rule and his powers have been taken over by the supreme council of the armed forces which has promised to protest what it calls the demands of the people. and the resignation described by -- as freedom for democracy. we leave you with pictures from tahir square.
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