By Brant Ozanich and Estela Fuentes
More than two hundred people gathered in UN Plaza Feb. 11 to dance and sing in celebration of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s official resignation after 18 days of continuous protest by the Egyptian people.
The diverse crowd of many nationalities and religions held hands and danced in circles to the sound of cheering and chants such as: “Egyptian people make history! People, power, victory!” and “Hey, hey, hey, goodbye!”
“We will party and be jubilant today, then be back on the streets tomorrow demanding the regime change to continue,” rally organizer Mohammad Talat said. “Mubarak leaving is just one piece of the puzzle.”
The gathering in Civic Center was planned the day before as an emergency show of support to the Egyptian people after Mubarak tried to appease protesters by delegating power to Vice President Omar Suleiman, who was appointed by Mubarak mere weeks earlier.
The members of the youth-led, secular uprising were far from satisfied though, and crowds took to the streets of Cairo with renewed anger many feared would turn violent.
“Egypt will explode,” prominent Mubarak dissident Mohamed ElBaradei tweeted on Feb. 10. “Army must save the country now.”
The mood and motives of the rally quickly changed the morning of Feb. 11 when Suleiman announced the president’s resignation and the transfer of all power to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, according to Al Jazeera English.
“I am very excited for the Egyptian people, they deserve their freedom after the long struggle,” Fadhl Radman, a Yemenite national, said amid hopes that his country could make similar progress towards democracy.
What is next for Egypt?
According to the Egyptian constitution, a new president must be elected within 60 days of Mubarak’s resignation and the People’s Assembly, the Egyptian parliament’s lower house, will take power temporarily.
However, the role that the constitution will play in determining the next government for Egypt is somewhat ambiguous.
“None of this is clear. Nobody is weeping over the constitution … because the constitution was such a disaster in terms of it being authoritarian,” Nathan Brown, professor of Middle Eastern politics at George Washington University, said to CNN. “So everything was broken in this constitution from their perspective.”
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces released a statement Feb. 11 promising to eventually end the state of emergency laws, which have been used to suppress dissent in Egypt since 1981, and set a plan in motion for elections as soon as possible.
“The Armed forces are committed to sponsor the legitimate demands of the people and achieving them … with all accuracy and seriousness and until the peaceful transfer of authority is completed towards a free democratic community,” the statement said.
The council also mentioned that no one would be persecuted for participating in any of the events that have occurred over the last 18 days.
Some political analysts speculate that the president was ousted in a military coup led by Suleiman with the hopes of continuing Mubarak’s regime. Both Suleiman and the ex-president have strong ties to the Egyptian military.
Suleiman, 74, ran Egypt’s intelligence agency from 1993 until Feb. 5, and is a close confidant of Mubarak’s. He recently outraged members of the uprising by saying he opposed lifting emergency laws and that Egypt was not ready for democracy, the New York Times reported.
“This is in fact the military taking over power,” political analyst Diaa Rashwan told the Associated Press, after Mubarak stepped down and left the reins of power to the armed forces. “It is direct involvement by the military in authority and to make Mubarak look like he has given up power.”
Other analysts believe the Egyptian people will eventually see a democratic state, coup or no coup.
“I’m not sure if we should focus on whether or not it’s a military coup that has taken place,” James Gelvin, a Middle East expert and history professor at University of California Los Angeles said to CNN. “We’re still looking forward to probably a September election.”