19 Feb 2011

Massive celebration of Mubarak's overthrow

12:15 pm on 19 February 2011

Hundreds of thousands of people in Cairo's Tahrir Square have been celebrating the overthrow one week ago of Hosni Mubarak as Egypt's president.

Organisers are hoping to maintain pressure on the new military government to implement democratic reforms, the BBC reports.

There is a festive atmosphere, with military bands playing and people waving flags, correspondents say. Many people came to the square with their children.

Television pictures showed massive crowds amid a sea of red, white and black national flags. People sang songs and chanted "The army and people are united!"

Separately, scores of Mubarak supporters staged their own rally a few kilometres away. Dressed in black, they held pictures of the ousted president, praising the man who led the country for nearly 30 years.

Fears army will renege on promises

In Tahrir Square, the influential Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradawi called for the release of all political prisoners and for Egypt's new military leaders to form a new government.

Mr Mubarak handed power to the leaders of the country's armed forces but the cabinet currently in place is much the same as the one he apppointed before leaving office.

The coalition of young activists and pro-democracy groups that led the 18 days of protests that culminated in his downfall are worried the army will go back on promises to implement political reforms.

Anti-corruption campaigners have also been pressing prosecutors to open an investigation into the Mubarak family's assets, the worth of which is estimated at anywhere between $US1 billion and $US70 billion.

Life in Egypt remains disrupted, with tanks on Cairo's streets, ongoing strikes and banks and schools closed.