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CHICAGO-Late Tuesday evening, President-elect Barack Obama addressed a crowd of tens of thousands in Grant Park here, minutes after Sen. John McCain conceded the election. Similar crowds in other US cities also gathered to hear him speak, such as in Times Square and around the White House, as well as in various countries around the globe. No foreign country’s people celebrated more than those in Kenya, Africa, the birthplace of Obama’s late father. The country has declared Nov. 6 as a national holiday, in celebration of Obama’s victory.

By 1 a.m. Wednesday morning, vote counts tallied Obama earning 338 electoral votes to McCain’s 141 votes. Obama was winning the popular vote as well, with 53.5 million, to McCain’s 49.2 million.

In his acceptance speech to Chicago, with a teary Jesse Jackson and Oprah Winfrey in the audience, Obama said the road ahead will be tough, but that Americans can pull together to weather the current crises. “Even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime–two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century,” he said in his speech. “There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after their children fall asleep and wonder how they’ll make the mortgage, or pay their doctors bills, or save enough for college. There is new energy to harness and new jobs to be created; new schools to build and threats to meet and alliances to repair.”

He acknowledged there will be setbacks and false starts, and that results may not even be reached by the end of his first term. “There are many who won’t agree with every decision or policy I make as President, and we know that government can’t solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And above all, I will ask you join in the work of remaking this nation the only way its been done in America for 221 years–block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand,” he said.

Kenyans are very proud that Obama has been elected the next US president, said the country’s government spokesman. “As a government, country and people, we consider this to be a defining moment in our history and the history of the world. Things will never be the same again and we can walk with our heads lifted higher and our hearts full of the spirit of success and improvement in the way the world operates,” the spokesman said in a statement following the election results.

The spokesman, who spent six years in the US as a newspaper editor, says he also takes personal pride in the win. “This has proven what I have always argued that we, as a people, can achieve what we put our heads to and years of discrimination and bad policies cannot stop a moment whose time has come,” the spokesman said.

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