Morsi vows to preserve
democracy in Egypt
ISLAMIST Mohamed Morsi praised Egypt’s Muslims and Christians alike on Friday and symbolically swore himself in as the country’s first elected civilian president, playing up people power before a huge throng at Tahrir Square.
Crowds had packed the square from early in the day for the president-elect’s appearance on the eve of his official swearing-in. Morsi, who won a run-off election earlier this month, was received with applause by the tens of thousands of people gathered in the birthplace of the revolt that overthrew his predecessor Hosni Mubarak last year.
He promised a “civilian state” and praised “the square of the revolution, the square of freedom,” in what he called an address to “the free world, Arabs, Muslims... the Muslims of Egypt, Christians of Egypt.” Morsi symbolically swore himself in before the crowd, saying: “I swear to preserve the republican system... and to preserve the independence” of Egypt. “I am one of you. I fear only God,” he told the crowd, hailing “the square of the revolution, the square of liberty — Tahrir Square.” Before his triumphant arrival, chants against the ruling military which took over on Mubarak’s overthrow rang out as people gathered from mid-morning under a searing sun.
In his speech Morsi, whose election has raised concerns among Egypt’s sizeable Coptic Christian community, served Washington with advance warning that his politics will be markedly different from those of his ousted predecessor.
He said he would work to secure freedom for Omar Abdul Rahman, a blind Egyptian cleric jailed for life over the 1993 World Trade Centre bombing. “I will do everything in my power to secure freedom for... detainees, including Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman,” Morsi said in his address to the hub of the 2011 revolution. Abdul Rahman was convicted in 1995 for his role in the World Trade Centre bombing, plotting to bomb other New York targets including the United Nations, and a plan to assassinate Mubarak. After taking the oath, Morsi will have to contend with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, led by Mubarak’s longtime defence minister Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, that will retain broad powers after it formally hands over.
He also threw down the gauntlet to the SCAF, while addressing the people directly. “You are the source of power and legitimacy... there is no place for anyone or any institution... above this will,” a defiant Morsi said. “I renounce none of the prerogatives of president.” Earlier demonstrators chanted antimilitary slogans including: “Down with the power of the military” and “Field marshal, tell us the truth — is Morsi your president or not?”The liberal Wafd newspaper reported that Tantawi will remain defence minister in the new government.
The Muslim Brotherhood, from which Morsi resigned after winning the presidency, had called for a huge demonstration in Tahrir on Friday, under the slogan “Day of the transfer of power.”The presidency has announced that Morsi will be sworn in Saturday before the Constitutional Court...