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Egyptians Celebrate Mubarak's Exit From Power


Cleanup has begun in Cairo's Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the popular uprising that led to the ouster of longtime President Hosni Mubarak.

Local residents swept the streets and collected rubbish as army soldiers removed metal barriers and barbed wire that had surrounded the square during the 18 days of protests.

Thousands of demonstrators remained on the square after celebrations carried on through the night. One man said the crowds were ready to resume demonstrations if the country's new military leaders don't move quickly to install democratic civilian rule.

"The removal of the regime is one demand. There are [other] demands which have not yet been met -- a civil government and the complete change of the system," he said. "Mubarak's leaving is not the end of the story. His system has roots everywhere in this country. We have had a cancer for the past 30 years."

Mubarak stepped down on February 11 amid mounting calls for an end to his 30-year regime. He is believed to have retreated to the resort town of Sharm el-Sheik, where he has a family home.

The Associated Press quoted anonymous airport officials as saying current and former government officials have been banned from traveling without permission from either the state prosecutor or the armed forces.

Curfew Eased

In signs of growing normalization, military leaders have eased the country's nighttime curfews to begin at midnight rather than 8 p.m. And state media reported that Egypt's stock exchange will reopen on February 16 after being closed for nearly three weeks due to the widespread unrest.

Vice President Omar Suleiman said a military council would run the most populous Arab country for now.

Praise for the Egyptian people has streamed in from around the globe.

"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," U.S. President Barack Obama said. "The people of Egypt have spoken, their voices have been heard, and Egypt will never be the same."

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon praised the courage of the Egyptian people.

"I commend the people of Egypt for the peaceful and courageous and orderly manner in which they have exercised their legitimate rights," Ban said. "I call on all parties to continue in the same spirit. The United Nations stands ready to assist in the process."

Ready For Democracy?

The crisis that brought down Mubarak was the worst since British-backed King Farouk was toppled in a military coup in 1952.

Generals have ruled ever since, although Mubarak and his predecessor, Anwar Sadat, rarely appeared in uniform and kept active-service officers in the background.

Behind the celebrations, some analysts question how far the armed forces under Field Marshal Muhammad Hussein Tantawi -- Mubarak's veteran defense minister -- are ready to permit democracy.

Al-Arabiyah television said the army would soon dismiss the cabinet and suspend parliament.

The head of the Constitutional Court would join the leadership with the military council.

with agency reports

PHOTO GALLERY -- A look at the political life of Hosni Mubarak:

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