CAIRO – Fireworks burst over Tahrir Square and Egypt exploded with joy and tears of relief after pro-democracy protesters brought down President Hosni Mubarak with a momentous march on his palaces and state TV. Mubarak, who until the end seemed unable to grasp the depth of resentment over his three decades of authoritarian rule, finally resigned Friday and handed power to the military.
"The people ousted the regime," rang out chants from crowds of hundreds of thousands massed in Cairo's central Tahrir, or Liberation, Square and outside Mubarak's main palace several miles away in a northern district of the capital.
The crowds in Cairo, the Mediterranean city of Alexandria and other cities around the country erupted into a pandemonium of cheers and waving flags. They danced, hugged and raised their hands in prayer after Vice President Omar Suleiman made the announcement on national TV just after nightfall. Some fell to kiss the ground, and others chanted, "Goodbye, goodbye" and "put your heads up high, you're Egyptian."
"Finally we are free," said Safwan Abou Stat, a 60-year-old protester. "From now on anyone who is going to rule will know that these people are great."
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