Mubarak is gone, Robert Mugabe, we’re coming to get ya!

    4.46pm: Reaction has started to come in from the US and the EU.

    The White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said:

    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 (office).

    The EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, said:

    The EU respects president Mubarak’s decision today. By standing down, he has listened to the voices of the Egyptian people and has opened the way to faster and deeper reforms. It is important now that the dialogue is accelerated leading to a broad-based government which will respect the aspirations of, and deliver stability for, the Egyptian people. The future of Egypt rightly remains in the hands of the Egyptian people. The EU stands ready to help in any way it can.

    4.43pm: Tariq Ali has written a piece for Comment is free. He says:

    A joyous night in Cairo. What bliss to be alive, to be an Egyptian and an Arab. In Tahrir Square they’re chanting, "Egypt is free" and "We won!"

    The removal of Mubarak alone (and getting the bulk of his $40bn loot back for the national treasury), without any other reforms, would itself be experienced in the region and in Egypt as a huge political triumph. It will set new forces into motion. A nation that has witnessed miracles of mass mobilisations and a huge rise in popular political consciousness will not be easy to crush, as Tunisia demonstrates.

    4.42pm: Barack Obama, who appeared humiliated last night when Mubarak gave that infamously equivocal statement, is to speak at the White House at 6.30pm GMT.

    4.36pm: The Guardian’s Twitter map of Middle East protests is being overrun with outpourings of emotion from Egypt at the moment. It’s a great visual representation of the reactions in the country.

    Says @Port_Sa3eedy: "Someone slap me… I can’t believe…. I’m tearing down #egypt #mubarak "

    4.28pm: From amidst a cacophony of cheers, our correspondent Jack Shenker describes the reaction of the crowd outside the presidential palace.

     There was a complete eruption of humanity, I have never seen anything like it. The world’s biggest street party has really kicked off here. There are huge huge crowds of people jumping up and down suddenly as one. Suddenly everyone rushed into the road. I’m being slapped in happiness and bounced around.

    4.27pm: Egyptian state TV is showing live pictures of the celebrtions in Tahrir square. "The newsreader is smiling and looks as happy as many of the people down there on the square," says the anchor on al-Jazeera English.

    4.23pm: The Egyptian pro-democracy campaigner Mohamed ElBaradei has cheered Mubarak’s resignation. "This is the greatest day of my life. The country has been liberated after decades of repression," he told The Associated Press. He said he expects a "beautiful" transition of power.

    4.20pm: Our correspondent Chris McGreal in Tahrir Square writes: "Cairo erupts in celebration as 18 days of defiant protest finally delivers a revolution after 24 hours of euphoria, dashed hopes and victory."

    4.17pm: We have now embedded a live video stream from Tahrir Square. You can watch it by refreshing this page.

    4.12pm: The full text of the vice-president’s very brief statement:

    In these difficult circumstances that the country is passing through, President Hosni Mubarak has decided to leave the position of the presidency. He has commissioned the armed forces council to direct the issues of the state.

    Celebration Cairo Al-Jazeera screengrab 4.03pm: There are huge cheers in Tahrir Square.

    President Mubarak has gone and the army has been entrusted with the republic, it has just been announced.

    4.02pm: Omar Suleiman is making a statement now. "President Hosni Mubarak has decided to waive the office of the republic."

    3.54pm: A potentially interesting development from Reuters:

    A senior Egyptian military spokesman arrived at the headquarters of Egypt’s state television on Friday, a military source told Reuters. Earlier, Egyptian state television had reported that the presidency was due to issue an important statement.

    3.49pm: My colleague Harriet Sherwood sends this from Jerusalem:

    The Israeli media is reporting a telephone conversation between Mubarak and Israel’s trade minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, a long-time friend, shortly before the Egyptian president’s speech last night.

    Ben-Eliezer told Israel’s Army Radio: "He knew that this was it, that this was the end of the road. He was looking for only one thing – give me an honourable way out. ‘Let me leave in an honourable fashion.’"

    3.48pm: Here is an interactive map of the Guardian’s Twitter network of Arab protests.

    3.44pm: Our correspondent Martin Chulov, who is monitoring events from Amman, says Egyptian state TV is now interviewing protesters. "This time, he must be gone," Martin says.

    3.43pm: We are awaiting a "statement from the presidency" – not, interestingly, from the president. In the meantime Hossam Badrawi, secretary general of the ruling NDP, has announced he has quit the party in an interview on Hayah TV, according to multiple sources. Yesterday he had been prominent among those who were predicting that Mubarak was about to stand aside.

    "It’s a resignation from the position and from the party," Badrawi told al-Hayat TV. "The formation of new parties in a new manner that reflects new thinking is better for society now at this stage."

    3.41pm: Al-Arabiya TV is now reporting that police killed 5 people in the clashes in el-Arish (see 3.32pm).

    3.32pm: There are reports of clashes in the north Sinai town of el-Arish. Al-Jazeera says at least one person died and 20 were injured when people with small firearms attacked a police station. From Reuters:

    Around 1,000 Egyptians attacked a police station in the north Sinai town of el-Arish on Friday to try to free prisoners, exchanging gunfire with police who retreated to the roof, witnesses said. The attackers set ablaze three vehicles outside and hurled petrol bombs during confrontation.

    3.31pm: My colleague Richard Adams in Washington sends the following:

    White House official just said: Mubarak’s departure to Sharm el-Sheikh a "positive first step". Also says Suleiman will be "clarifying" what his powers are.

    Egyptian TV says statement "from the office of the presidency" very, very shortly.

    Egyptian army tanks surrounding the presidential palace have turned their gun turrets away from the crowd, according to CNN.

    3.30pm: On the Arabist blog, Issandr El Amrani has posted his instant thoughts on the situation as he sees it. It’s worth a read. Amrani believes it is "pretty evident that Suleiman is in charge". He asks why the regime, including the army, still need Mubarak to be nominally in charge. He says:

    Mubarak needs to be in place, even if only symbolically, for amendments to the constitution to be made. If the constitution is suspended, then this forces the army to take charge itself (presumably through the supreme military council), which opens the way to demands for civilian government and lifts the last layer of distance that the army has vis-a-vis the people.

    3.00pm: There are reports that president Hosni Mubarak has left Cairo. Helicopters have been seen leaving the presidential palace in Cairo, and a local government official has said he is in the red sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

    After Mubarak’s speech last night, it appeared he had defied the people’s call for him to step aside. But today, Egyptian diplomats are briefing that he has indeed relinquished power to his deputy, Omar Suleiman. The army also stated that a handover of power had begun.

    The New York Times is portraying this as a significant moment in the protests. It says diplomats are trying to confirm that Mubarak’s speech last night "signalled his irrevocable handover of presidential authority":

    Western diplomats said that officials of the Egyptian government were scrambling to assure that a muddled speech Mr Mubarak made on Thursday night that enraged protesters had in fact signalled his irrevocable handover of presidential authority. "The government of Egypt says absolutely, it is done, it is over," a Western diplomat said. "But that is not what anybody heard" in Mr Mubarak’s speech.