Egypt's Mohammed Morsi has been ousted from power after days of pressure from the military, but more importantly from the people on the streets. The mood is one of jubilation, but also apprehension as to what comes next.
For hours the crowd waited in anxious anticipation, chanting and cheering in a sea of waving flags. Then, when the announcement came from General Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi that the military had taken control of the country, Tahrir Square erupted in euphoric celebration.
"This is a victory for the people of Egypt," said Samia Abdel Elrasal, a 50-year-old housewife sitting in a café overlooking Tahrir Square. "Finally we have our country back."
But as emotions run high and celebrations continue, what could come next in Egypt is unclear.
"I just want our country to be back on the right path, I want my children to have a better future," said 53-year-old Mahmoud Kdr Mustafa, in Tahrir Square as bursting fireworks illuminated the sky. "We don't know what is going to happen, but we are finally hopeful again."
Adly Mansour, the president of Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court will run the country until a new president is elected.
Sisi also revealed plans that a technocratic government representing diverse sections of society, and a committee woul be established to review the constitution. He also gave the military arrest powers for "anyone who acts outside the law."
In the days leading up to the announcement, some anti-Morsi protesters expressed reservations at the return of the military that seized power following the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Relations rapidly soured with activists when the military violently cracked down on demonstrations and put civilians on military trials.
Isolation and speculation
But while most celebrated, on the opposite side of town in Cairo's Nasr City where Morsi's supporters had gathered, Islamists were left feeling islolated. The protest was surrounded by the military and main roads were blocked by armed vehicles. Islamist television stations were shut down and MENA, the state news agency, said managers of the Muslim Brotherhood's Misr 25 station were arrested.
Hoisting photos of the president, supporters called the military's move a coup, pledging to defend what they say is his legitimacy as Egypt's first democratically elected president. Many said they feared the oppression they faced under former autocrat Hosni Mubarak would return.
As Egyptians remained caught up in strong emotions in the immediate aftermath of the military's intervention, what happens next is open to speculation. Analysts say it is too early to tell whether or not the developments will support Egyptian democracy.
"Egypt has thrown a paradox to the world," said Tarek Radwan, associate director for research at the Atlantic Council's Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East. "On the one hand a military coup is seen as an inherent step backwards for democracy. But on the other hand, what we have seen with Morsi is a backtracking on fundamental rights that would allow a democratic culture to grow."
"And you have this huge popular movement that was in support of the military coup. It may in fact put Egypt back on the right path," he said.
The road ahead
And many say key to putting Egypt on that path is whether or not the Muslim Brotherhood will remain politically involved or be forced back underground like it was for years before the revolution. News of a security crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood leaders, travel bans, and Morsi possibly under house arrest would likely push them not to partake in any transition, even if they were allowed back.
"If they are allowed a role, we could likely see them play spoilers, not wanting the transition to succeed," said Radwan. "On the other hand, they can decide not to participate and that would be a whole different kind of spoiler."
Apart from the Muslim Brotherhood, others worry of a possibly violent reaction from more conservative Islamist groups. With the past year seen as a test for their ability to partake in the democratic process, many fear they will take the overthrow of a freely elected Islamist president as proof that mainstream politics goes nowhere and will revert to taking up arms.
"The forceful removal of the nation's first democratically-elected civilian president risks sending a message to Islamists that they have no place in the political order, sowing fears among them that they will suffer yet another bloody crackdown and thus potentially prompting violent, even desperate resistance by Morsi's followers," said the International Crisis Group, an NGO that works on conflict prevention and resolution, in a statement released Wednesday night.
And in any attempt to address this threat, many fear the Egyptian security forces will not take human rights into serious consideration.
"We can't forget how the Egyptian army handled unrest during the SCAF (Supreme Council of the Armed Forces - the ed.) era and that the police have not been reformed," said Radwan. "Security and human rights are antagonistic to Egyptian security officials, so in this transition to remake democracy, I'm afraid we will see a lot of casualties."