Crowds celebrate across Cairo after army statement

CAIRO Wed Jul 3, 2013 4:23pm EDT

Protesters, who are against Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi, react in Tahrir Square in Cairo July 3, 2013. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem

Protesters, who are against Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi, react in Tahrir Square in Cairo July 3, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Suhaib Salem

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CAIRO (Reuters) - Jubilant crowds across Cairo cheered, chanted pro-army slogans and set off fireworks after the military suspended the constitution and overthrew President Mohamed Mursi on Wednesday.

Men, women and children waved red-white-and-black Egyptian flags as confetti twirled in the air, protesters stood on each other's shoulders and families snapped pictures in Tahrir Square, the center of demonstrations that drew millions out against Mursi and his Muslim Brotherhood.

"The people and the army are one hand," they chanted.

Over two years ago, Tahrir saw similar celebrations after an uprising toppled Hosni Mubarak, paving the way for Mursi to become Egypt's first freely elected president.

But Mursi's popularity slid in the year since he took office. His liberal and leftist opponents accused him of spurning compromise and failing to deal with the country's urgent economic and political problems.

"We ousted one dictator and now we've ousted a second one. We'll do it again if necessary, we are experienced now," said Adal El-Bendary, a 45-year-old public relations employee, sitting at a cafe near Tahrir.

"This will be in the minds of the army or any politician in the future - they will not want to face the same destiny as Mursi or Mubarak."

Haisam Haggag, an engineer, said Mursi's fall was "a victory for the people".

"This is not a coup," he said. "Look at the people on the streets. The people said this is a revolution."

"EGYPT IS VICTORIOUS"

Protesters unfurled large flags and danced in circles and blew horns when word of the army's statement reached Tahrir.

"Egyptians are telling the world, 'We are not afraid of anyone'," Hassan Amar, 22, said, his small daughter sitting on his shoulders. "We defeated Mursi, thank God."

Graffiti and posters around the city supported this sentiment. One poster near Tahrir read: "This is the end of Brotherhood colonization".

Another read: "Day 22 of the revolution," implying the protests that started on Sunday were an extension of the 18 days of demonstrations it took to push out Mubarak.

"He didn't have the charisma of a head of state. He didn't believe in our citizens. He didn't work for the people," said Amani, a 43-year-old woman with her husband and daughter in Tahrir.

Nearby, boys climbed on lamp posts and people leaned from windows and balconies. Fireworks vendors did brisk business. People carried around stuffed toy sheep and posters of Mursi depicting him as the farm animal.

One uniformed police officer waved his hands above his head as honking cars drove by. "Great Egypt is victorious," he said. "Egypt is victorious over the Brotherhood."

(Writing by Alexander Dziadosz and Sarah McFarlane; Editing by Giles Elgood)

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