Egypt Army vows peaceful transition to democracy

Story Summary: 

Egyptian volunteers and protestors clean the entrance to Cairo’s Qasr al-Nil bridge from graffiti on Saturday, a day after Mr Hosni Mubarak’s ouster from 30 years in power.

CAIRO: Egypt’s military leadership Saturday vowed to oversee a "peaceful transition" to democracy and pledged its commitment to all international treaties, a day after Mr Hosni Mubarak bowed out as President in the wake of an unprecedented uprising against his 30-year rule.

In a statement here, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which is now in charge of the administration in the post-Mubarak Egypt, gave no timeline for the changeover. The military also banned top officials from travelling outside the country to ensure that former presidential loyalists do not flee.

The Council said the present government would remain in place until a transition to an elected government is achieved. In a televised statement entitled ‘Communique Number 4,’ it said it would "pave the way for an elected civil authority to build a free democratic state."

Mr Mubarak, 82, fled from Cairo Friday as tens of thousands of protestors laid siege to his presidential palace demanding an end to his rule. In what comes as an assurance to Israel, the military also vowed to respect the regional and international treaties that Egypt has committed to in the past. "The Arab Republic of Egypt is committed to all regional and international obligations and treaties," the military communique said. The statement is expected to allay the concerns in Israel which is anxious that a change in leadership in Egypt could hamper the 1979 Camp David accords. Celebrations have refused to die down in an emotionally-charged Egypt where thousands of people have been rejoicing since Friday night when Vice President Mr Omar Suleiman appeared on television to announce that Mr Mubarak had finally stepped down.

Thousands of people still remain in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the centre of the 18-day uprising in Egypt. The army, which has come in for praise for its handling of the protestors, Saturday removed barricades and barbed wire at the now iconic Tahrir Square. Men, women and children, lauded the world over for their near violence-free revolution, joined in to clean the streets, collecting rubbish as tanks still lurked on the sides of main roads.

Mystery continued to surround the whereabouts of the deposed president and his family. While officially it is stated that Mr Mubarak has shifted to his Sharm-al-Sheikh resort residence, other reports in the Arab media said he may have moved to Europe or the Gulf. There was no word or mention of the ex-president from the new regime.