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Egypt's prime minister resigns

Egypt's prime minister has resigned, the country's military rulers said.

Ahmed Shafiq was appointed by president Hosni Mubarak shortly before he was ousted, and his departure meets a key demand of the opposition protest movement.

The former air force officer was named prime minister by Mr Mubarak shortly after the January 25 outbreak of massive anti-government protests.

Mr Mubarak stepped down on February 11, but Mr Shafiq stayed in office at the head of a caretaker government and leaders of the uprising have been pressing the military to fire him.

A brief statement posted by the military on its official website said it had chosen former transport minister Essam Sharaf as the new prime minister and asked him to form a new Cabinet.

Mr Sharaf served in the Cabinet between 2004 and 2006 and quit amid an uproar over a series of deadly train accidents blamed on government negligence.

Mr Sharaf, an engineer, has visited the anti-Mubarak protesters in Cairo's central Tahrir Square, the uprising's epicentre, something that endeared him to the youth groups behind the opposition movement.

Mohamed ElBaradei, a leading pro-democracy activist and Noble Peace Prize winner, welcomed Mr Shafiq's departure and thanked the military for "listening to the people".

Speaking on his Twitter account, Mr ElBaradei, the former head of the UN nuclear watchdog, IAEA. said: "The old regime has finally fallen. We are on the right track. Let us all get down to work and start rebuilding our country. We want the world to know that Egypt is open for business."

"First, we ousted Mubarak. Secondly, we got rid of Shafiq. We have become again the owners of this country," said Bassem Kamel, a member of the coalition involved in the uprising. "We are still awaiting for the other demands to be met."

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