By Ray Fleming

SHAKESPEARE'S fine lines in Macbeth -- “Nothing in his life Became him like the leaving of it” -- cannot be applied to Hosni Mubarak's leaving of the presidency of Egypt. His TV appearance on Thursday night was both a mean-spirited attempt to put the blame for the brutalities and failures of his regime on others and a vain attempt to disguise the fact that, to all intents and purposes, he had decided to resign. It took another sixteen hours for the final word to be passed to the protesting public whose refusal to accept defeat at Mubarak's hands never showed more steadfastly than yesterday after the disappointment of his evasive words on the previous evening.

I have used the same headline for this Viewpoint as for yesterday's because everything I wrote there in anticipation of Mubarak's early resignation remains true. Egypt's immediate future has been placed in the hands of the Army whose undertaking to “take the necessary measures to protect the nation and to meet the legitimate demands of the people” remains the gilt-edged assurance to which the nation will hold it. The past eighteen days have been a magnificent demonstration of the ability of ordinary people to take their destiny in their own hands and to do so in an orderly and disciplined way. Now the nation has to repeat this model in the very different task of shaping a new country of freedom and tolerance.