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Mubarak steps down, passes authority to military

Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman took to the cameras and made a quick statement, saying Hosni Mubarak had stepped down and handed off power to the military.

Here's AP:

Egypt's Hosni Mubarak resigned as president and handed control to the military on Friday, bowing down after a historic 18-day wave of pro-democracy demonstrations by hundreds of thousands. ... 'In these grave circumstances that the country is passing through, President Hosni Mubarak has decided to leave his position as president of the republic," a grim-looking Suleiman said. "He has mandated the Armed Forces Supreme Council to run the state. God is our protector and succor."

NBC's Athena Jones reports, per the White House, that the president will make an on-camera statement later today.

From the White House:

The President was informed of President Mubarak's decision to step down during a meeting in the Oval Office. He then watched TV coverage of the scene in Cairo for several minutes in the outer Oval.

*** UPDATE *** We noted in First Thoughts the potential political peril for the Obama administration after the Mubarak not stepping down yesterday and the mixed messages coming from administration officials.

NBC's Mark Murray reports that a Democratic official said in an e-mail that this is "great news for the admin/president – people will remember – despite some fumbles yesterday – that the President played an excellent hand, walked the right line and that his statement last night was potentially decisive in brining this issue to a close. The situation remains complicated and delicate going forward – but this is a huge affirmation of the President’s leadership on the international stage."