Brussels cheered after Egypt's President stepped down today (11 February) following 18 days of massive protests. "Today the voice of the Egyptian people was heard. Political responsibility has prevailed," said European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek.

"The decision taken by President Mubarak should facilitate democratic transition without further violence," Buzek added, hailing developments as an historic day of peaceful, lasting and democratic change.

Hosni Mubarak has stepped down and the vice-president has named a military council to run the country's affairs, state television said today (11 February) after 18 days of mass protests against his rule.

A ruling party official said earlier that Mubarak and his family had left Cairo for the glitzy Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, where there is a presidential residence. He said this proved Mubarak had handed power to his deputy, Omar Suleiman.

In the morning, Egypt's powerful military issued guarantees that promised democratic reforms would be carried out, but angry protesters intensified the uprising against Mubarak by marching on the presidential palace and the state television headquarters.

The army's gesture was an effort to defuse an 18-day-old revolt unprecedented in modern Egypt but, in ignoring the key demand of protesters for Mubarak to leave now, it failed to stop turmoil disrupting the economy and rattling the Middle East.

Mubarak had promised only that he would not for re-election in September and that he would preside over reforms until then.

This was not enough for the many hundreds of thousands of mistrustful protesters who rallied in cities across the Arab world's most populous and influential country on Friday, fed up with high unemployment, a corrupt elite and police repression.

The escalating confrontation has raised fear of uncontrolled violence in the most populous Arab nation, a key US ally in an oil-rich region where the chance of chaos spreading to other long stable but repressive states troubles the West.

(EurActiv with Reuters.)