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Egypt's Mubarak steps down, hands power to military council (Update 1)

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Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak resigned on Friday after 18 days of protests across the country, Vice President Omar Suleiman said on national TV.

CAIRO, February 11 (RIA Novosti) - Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak resigned on Friday after 18 days of protests across the country, Vice President Omar Suleiman said on national TV.

"In these difficult circumstances the country is facing, President Hosni Mubarak has decided to leave his post and instructed the Higher Military Council to rule the country," Suleiman said.

Thousands of protesters on Tahrir Square in Cairo's center began cheering, screaming, embracing, dancing while waving flags after the announcement of Mubarak's resignation.

National TV reported that Mubarak and his family had left Cairo for his winter residence in Sharm el Sheikh, a popular resort in South Sinai.

Mubarak, who ruled the Arab country for almost 30 years, addressed the restive nation on Thursday, giving most of his powers to Vice President Suleiman, the former intelligence chief, and proposing amendments to the constitution. Friday's speech sparked outrage among protesters on Tahrir Square.

Earlier on Friday, the Higher Military Council declared its support for Mubarak's transfer of power to his vice president and promised free elections, but set no date for them.

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