Egypt Is Free' Chants Tahrir After Mubarak Quits

Egypt’s military took control of the country Friday as Hosni Mubarak resigned as president after 18 days of massive protests against his autocratic 30-year reign.

Mubarak’s resignation was announced by Vice President Omar Suleiman in a brief statement that brought roars of joy to Egyptians gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square — the epicenter of the protest movement — as well as the presidential palace in the suburb of Heliopolis and all around the country.

Ecstatic protesters hoisted soldiers onto their shoulders and families posed for pictures in front of tanks in streets flooded with residents of the capital of 18 million people streaming out to celebrate. Strangers hugged strangers, some fell to kiss the ground, and others stood stunned in disbelief. Chants of ""Hold your heads high, you're Egyptian"" roared with each burst of fireworks overhead.

""I'm 21 years old and this is the first time in my life I feel free,"" an ebullient Abdul-Rahman Ayyash, born eight years after Mubarak came to power, said as he hugged fellow protesters in Tahrir, or Liberation, Square.

The military, which effectively carried out a coup at the pleas of protesters that it push Mubarak out, announced on state television that is was committed to shepherding demands for greater democracy and that it would announce the next steps soon, possibly including the dissolving of parliament and creation of a transitional government to lead reforms.

Suleiman — who appeared to have lost his post as well in the military takeover — appeared grim as he delivered the short announcement.

""In these grave circumstances that the country is passing through, President Hosni Mubarak has decided to leave his position as president of the republic,"" Suleiman said. ""He has mandated the Armed Forces Supreme Council to run the state. God is our protector and succor.