Election over, Obama looks ahead to tasks of new job

•In Washington, residents poured into the streets at 11 p.m. ET when the networks added California's rich trove of 55 electoral votes to his list, putting Obama over the top.

Hundreds gathered on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House, dancing and cheering. At historically black Howard University, students hugged and chanted "Yes, we did."

"We're so happy. We want to be part of history. You cannot let it just pass," said Eskinder Zeluel, an Ethiopia native who joined the celebration outside of the White House. "You can tell your kids you can be anything you want to be in this country."

• In New York's Harlem, thousands of people poured into the streets. Near the historic Apollo Theater, men played conga drums and revelers blew noisemakers.

•In Philadelphia, thousands of blacks and whites converged at City Hall, dancing to music blaring from car radios. Drivers stopped in the middle of the street, opened their car doors and broadcast Obama's acceptance speech.

•At Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church, where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. preached, Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights hero, said he was hardly able to believe that 40 years after he was left beaten and bloody on an Alabama bridge as he marched for the right for blacks to vote, he had cast a ballot for Obama.

"Tonight is a wonderful night," Lewis said. "It is a night of thanksgiving."

Many people abroad shared in the enthusiasm:

• In Kenya, President Mwai Kibaki declared a public holiday on Thursday in honor of Obama, who father was from Kenya. In the tiny village where Obama's 87-year-old grandmother lives, villagers swarmed the family home, banging drums, ululating and waving tree branches.

•Australians filled a hotel ballroom in Sydney. Brazilians partied in Rio de Janeiro. In the town of Obama in Japan, dancers cheered in delight when their namesake's victory was declared.

•Obama's win "shows that America truly is a diverse, multicultural society where the color of your skin really does not matter," said Jason Ge, an international relations student at Peking University in China.

• South African Nobel Peace laureate Desmond Tutu likened Obama's victory to his country's triumph over apartheid and Nigeria's President Umaru Yar'Adua said the result had "finally broken the greatest barrier of prejudice in human history."

•In Brussels, European Union officials hailed Obama's election victory Wednesday as an opportunity to renew a tenuous trans-Atlantic relationship and join forces in "a new deal for a new world."

In Baghdad, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told Al-Arabiyah TV: "We don't expect any change to happen overnight or any hasty change in U.S. policy and commitment toward Iraq." But he acknowledged that Obama "will not have the same enthusiasm and momentum for this situation" in Iraq as Bush.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev issued a congratulatory telegram saying there is "solid positive potential" for the election to improve strained rela tions between Washington and Moscow, if Obama engages in constructive dialogue.

Yet he appeared to be deliberately provocative hours after the election with sharp criticism of the U.S. and his announcement that Russia will deploy missiles near NATO member Poland in response to U.S. missile defense plans.

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