Mohammed Morsi became the Arab world's first democratically-elected Islamist leader Saturday after he took the oath-of-office officially naming him former president Hosni Mubarak's successor.
In short remarks at his swearing in, Morsi pledged to continue the momentum of the Arab Spring, stating, "today, the Egyptian people laid the foundation of a new life — absolute freedom, a genuine democracy and stability."
"We aspire to a better tomorrow, a new Egypt and a second republic," Morsi said during the solemn ceremony that took place before the before the Supreme Constitutional Court's 18 judges.
Morsi, an engineer, is a member of the religious and politically conservative group the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization long banned in Egypt. Fulfilling a campaign pledge, the Brotherhood confirmed this week Morsi resigned his positions in both the organization and its Freedom and Justice Party (FJP).
Although Morsi bowed to pressure from the military to be sworn in before the court and not the parliament on Saturday, the 61-year-old president made attempts to balance this compromise by delivering a rousing speech in Tahrir Square on Friday.
"Everybody is hearing me now. The government...the military and the police," Morsi said Friday. "No power above this power."
"I reaffirm to you I will not give up any of the president's authorities. I can't afford to do this. I don't have that right."
However, chinks in Morsi's ability to stand up to the military authority are already showing. Shortly before the closure of the polls last week, the ruling Generals of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) issued a decree sharply curtailing the powers of the new president.
SCAF will keep control of legislative powers and the budget until a new Parliament is elected. Egyptians went to the polls in November to elect a legislature, but this was dissolved earlier this month after a highly controversial high court ruling found parts of the electoral law unconstitutional.
World leaders have also cautiously congratulated Morsi, urging him to continue steps toward democracy. International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde congratulated him Thursday and offered continued monetary support to the young democracy. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon also extended his warm wishes this week.
However, on Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made clear her concern over steps ahead when she said "one election does not a democracy make."
"We've heard some very positive statements thus far, including about respecting international obligations, which would, in our view, cover the peace treaty with Israel. But we have to wait and judge by what is actually done," she added.
However, in his remarks Friday, Morsi remained mildly defiant toward the military, both thanking them for protecting the Egyptian people and then later, opening his jacket to show he was not wearing a bullet-proof vest.
"Revolutionaries and free, we will continue the journey," Morsi told the cheering crowd. "I fear no one but God and I work for you."
by RTT Staff Writer
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