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February 11, 2011

Egypt: the wait

For 17 days, tens of thousands of anti-government protesters gathered in Tahrir Square calling for the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak, 30 years in power. They had been acting out of passion for their country and dedication for change. They had protested and waited for a response. The response came in an address from Mubarak to the country and his people. Mubarak would not step down. Then almost miraculously, on the eighteenth day of protests, Vice President Omar Suleiman made a very brief statement on state television. Mubarak had stepped down. The crowds erupted "Egypt is free!" "Egypt is free!" -- Paula Nelson (40 photos total)

Anti-government demonstrators wait for the announced address by President Hosni Mubarak at a coffee shop near Cairo's Tahrir Square on the 17th day of protests calling for the ousting of the embattled leader. (Marco Longari/AFP/Getty Images)

Demonstrators say evening prayers in front of armored personnel carriers as tens of thousands gather at Tahrir Square, also known as Liberation Square. (Pedro Ugarte/AFP/Getty Images) #

Chanting slogans, protesters had been in a festive mood before President Mubarak spoke. News and rumors throughout the day had signaled Mubarak -- for many of the young protesters, the only president they have known -- would resign. (Pedro Ugarte/AFP/Getty Images) #

A demonstrator waves his national flag in front of an army tank in Tahrir Square. The Egyptian army is the key player in the standoff between Mubarak and the protesters, Middle East experts say. The military, which is generally well regarded by the protesters, has largely maintained a hands-off policy during the rallies. (Pedro Ugarte/AFP/Getty Images) #

Hassan al Roueini, military commander for the Cairo area, joins protesters in Tahrir Square. "All your demands will be met today,’’ he tells the jubilant crowd, who responded, "The people want the end of the regime,’’ and "God is great." (Suhaib Salem/Reuters) #

Demonstrators kiss an Egyptian soldier in Tahrir Square. Through much of the 17 days of protests, soldiers and demonstrators have shown moments of solidarity. (Asmaa Waguih/Reuters) #

After Egypt's military announced on national television that the protesters’ demands would be met, the crowd celebrates. That joy turned to seething anger hours later when President Mubarak vowed to stay in office until September. (Tara Todras-Whitehill/Associated Press) #

Opposition supporters wait for President Mubarak's national address in Tahrir Square. (Goran Tomasevic/Reuters) #

Opposition supporters flash the victory sign after a senior army general addressed the crowd inside Tahrir Square. (Yannis Behrakis/Reuters) #

Demonstrators wait for the announced address by President Mubarak at a coffee shop near Tahrir Square. (Marco Longari/AFP/Getty Images) #

Anti-government bloggers work on their laptops from Tahrir Square. Despite government attempts to shut down the Internet and limit communications, organizers have been adept at using a variety of media and electronic workarounds to coordinate the rallies. (Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty Images) #

Protesters in Tahrir Square display a giant poster showing "the martyrs of the revolution." When Egypt's military announced on national television it had stepped in to secure the country and promised protesters that all their demands would soon be met, the crowd broke into chants of "We're almost there, we're almost there" and waved V-for-victory signs. (Amr Nabil/Associated Press) #

Opposition protesters scream their support in their stronghold of Tahrir Square. (Goran Tomasevic/Reuters) #

Opposition supporter waves flags after a senior army general addressed the crowd inside Tahrir Square. (Yannis Behrakis/Reuters) #

A soldier watches as protesters pray in Tahrir Square. In addition to the rally in Cairo, thousands of state workers and impoverished Egyptians launched strikes and protests around the country over their economic woes. (Emilio Morenatti/Associated Press) #

Demonstrators wave their national flag that bear the date "January 25," referring to the first day of the start of protests calling for the ousting of President Mubarak. Since then, more than 300 people have been killed, according to human rights groups. (Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images) #

Opposition supporters wave flags in their stronghold of Tahrir Square. (Goran Tomasevic/Reuters) #

President Hosni Mubarak makes a 17-minute statement to his nation in this image taken from television. Following more than two weeks of protests, anti-government demonstrators were given hope by official statements suggesting that Mubarak may step down after 30 years in power. But Mubarak said in his statement that while protester demands are legitimate, he won't give in to foreign dictates. (Egypt TV via APTN/Associated Press) #

An opposition supporter reacts in dismay at President Hosni Mubarak's speech to the nation in their stronghold of Tahrir Square. (Suhaib Salem/Reuters) #

Egyptian anti-government demonstrators wave their shoes as they show their anger during a speech by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who failed to announce his immediate resignation, as tens of thousands gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square. Embattled Mubarak delegated power to his deputy and former intelligence chief Omar Suleiman and proposed constitutional reforms but said the transition to end his 30-year-reign would last until September. (Pedro UgarteAFP/Getty Images) #

Anti-government protesters watch on big screen as Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak makes a televised statement to his nation. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak announced handing over some of his powers to his vice president, Omar Suleiman, and ordered constitutional amendments. But the move means he retains his title of president and ensures regime control over the reform process, falling short of protester demands. Protesters in Cairo's central Tahrir Square, hoping he would announce his resignation outright, reacted in fury and disbelief. (Emilio Morenatti/Associated Press) #

Anti-government protesters react as Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak makes his statement. (Chris Hondros/Getty Images) #

Opposition supporters react in dismay at President Hosni Mubarak's speech to the nation. (Suhaib Salem/Reuters) #

Anti-government protesters and Army soldiers watch and listen to the statement of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. (Emilio Morenatti/Associated Press) #

Anti-government protesters watch on a big screen as Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak makes a televised statement to his nation. (Emilio Morenatti/Associated Press) #

The portrait of 18-year-old Egyptian anti-government protester Maath Sayed Mohammed Kamel, killed on January 28, 2011, sits next to an Egyptian flag at the place where he died during clashes between demonstrators and security forces in central Cairo's Tahrir Square, as the 18th day of protests against President Hosni Mubarak's regime began in the landmark square on February 11, 2011. (Pedro Ugarte/AFP/Getty Images) #

An army soldier sits on a armored vehicle as anti-government protesters hold their shoes in the air during a protest in front of the state television building on the Corniche in downtown Cairo, Egypt Friday, Feb. 11, 2011. Stunned protesters, demanding his ouster, waved their shoes in contempt and shouted, "Leave, leave, leave." (Emilio Morenatti/Associated Press) #

Anti-government protesters and Egyptian Army soldiers on top of their vehicles, make traditional Muslim Friday prayers at the continuing demonstration in Tahrir Square, Friday, Feb. 11, 2011. (Ben Curtis/Associated Press) #

Protesters weep during Friday prayers inside Tahrir Square. Egypt's powerful army pledged on Friday to guarantee President Hosni Mubarak's reforms in a move to defuse a popular uprising, but many angry protesters said this failed to meet their key demand that he resign immediately. (Dylan Martinez/Reuters) #

A soldier pulls fencing into place in front of the presidential palace in Cairo. Egypt's powerful army gave guarantees on Friday that President Hosni Mubarak's promised reforms would be carried out, but protesters insisted he quit now and cranked up the pressure by massing outside his palace. (Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters) #

An injured Egyptian anti-government protester holds onto barbed wires outside the state television building in Cairo. Thousands of demonstrators massed at Egypt's state television building and at President Hosni Mubarak's palace in the Cairo suburbs as anti-regime protests spread across the city. (Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images) #

An Egyptian soldier stands atop a tank guarding the state TV building on the Corniche in Cairo, as thousands of protesters demonstrate in the streets around the building. (Yannis Behrakis/Reuters) #

Opposition protesters celebrate President Hosni Mubarak's resignation, from their stronghold of Tahrir Square. (Suhaib Salem/Reuters) #

Cairo's streets exploded in joy when Mubarak stepped down after three-decades of autocratic rule and handed power to a junta of senior military commanders. (Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images) #

Anti-government protesters celebrate inside Tahrir Square after the announcement of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's resignation. (Dylan Martinez/Reuters) #

Protesters celebrate inside Tahrir Square after the announcement that Mubarak had bowed to pressure from the street and had resigned, handing power to the army. (Dylan Martinez/Reuters) #

The celebration continues. The crowd chanting "Egypt is free!" "Egypt is free!" (Dylan Martinez/Reuters) #

An Egyptian anti-government demonstrator waves his national flag next to soldiers at Cairo's Tahrir Square in celebration. (Marco Longari/AFP/Getty Images) #

An Egyptian boy kisses a soldier as anti-government protesters celebrate at Cairo's Tahrir Square. (Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images) #

An Egyptian woman cries as she celebrates the news of the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak, who stepped down after 30 years of power. (Tara Todras-Whitehill/Associated Press) #