Cairo, Egypt (CNN) -- Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepped down Friday and handed over power to the military, his nearly three decades of iron rule ended by a groundswell of popular protests that began January 25.<br><br>
In a somber, one-minute announcement on state television, Vice President Omar Suleiman announced Mubarak's resignation and said the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces will "run the affairs of the country."<br><br>
As Suleiman spoke, deafening cheers erupted among tens of thousands of Egyptians who thronged the streets of Cairo. It was a moment they had sought throughout long, often tense days of demonstrations -- some of them violent -- that demanded Mubarak's departure.<br><br>
It was also a moment that many in the Arab world's powerhouse nation had not dared contemplate.<br><br>
Chants of "Egypt is free!" and "God is great!" rose from the crowds, dizzy in the honeymoon of their success. Some waved Egyptian flags; others honked horns; still others set off fireworks as they savored the scene.<br><br>
Two major bridges over the Nile River resembled congested parking lots, and partiers packed streets throughout Cairo. The state-run Middle East News Agency said some people had passed out from joy and others had suffered heart attacks.
"It was a sense of liberation for me, for every Egyptian," said opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei. "For the first time, Egypt has a chance to be democratic, to be free, to have a sense of dignity, of freedom. So it's amazing. It's just like something we never experienced in our lifetime."<br><br>
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