Military Threatened to Join Protests Unless Mubarak Quit
The resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak Friday came after a tense standoff with the nation's top military officials incensed by his refusal to step down as expected Thursday evening, sources told NBC News.
Individuals close to Mubarak had apparently expected him to announce his resignation in an address Thursday night, and rumors of an impending speech swirled all day.
Yet in a stunning reversal, Mubarak took to state television that evening and announced only that he would cede some presidential authority to his newly-appointed vice-president, a move that enraged protesters and political insiders alike.
Senior military officials were so furious with the speech, sources told NBC News, that some threatened to remove their uniforms and immediately join the throngs of protesters amassed in central Cairo's Tahrir Square.
Tensions grew overnight, and Friday morning Mubarak left Cairo for Egyptian resort town Sharm el-Sheikh.
Just after nightfall Friday, Egyptian Vice-President Omar Suleiman delivered the words protesters had demanded for weeks: Mubarak would step down, and rule of the nation would be granted to a military council.