Saturday, February 12, 2011;
CAIRO - Egyptian protesters turned from toppling a president to rebuilding a country they believe is once again theirs and cleaning up Tahrir Square, where many vowed to stay to hold their new military rulers to account.
Thousands were back in the square Saturday celebrating the fall of President Hosni Mubarak, whose three decades in office ended with a terse statement read out on television Friday night.
Some picked up brooms and swept the streets, others took down tents, smiling and chatting about their new political era. Among them were those determined to stay, waiting for a clear signal from the army that promised reforms would be implemented.
"We won't leave because we have to make sure this country is set on the right path," said Ahmed Saber, 27, who is unemployed. "We won't let the armed forces ride the success of our revolution."
Many Egyptians who had not joined the 18 days of protests in Tahrir came to help clean up. Groups of men, women and children wore vests with a "Proudly Cleaning Egypt" sign on the back as national songs blared out of speakers.
"For the first time in my life, I feel like the street is mine," said Dina Sayyed, 30, an engineer who was brushing up litter in the square. "I haven't protested before, but the joy of the liberation is so overwhelming. Cleaning the streets is the least I can do to help those who saved Egypt."
In two communiques issued overnight, a core group of protest organizers demanded the lifting of a state of emergency and the formation of a transitional government to prepare for an election to take place within nine months and of a body to draft a new democratic constitution.