Morsi Sworn In, Promises New Era for Egypt

Posted June 30th, 2012 at 10:45 am (UTC-5)
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Islamist Mohamed Morsi is promising a brighter future for Egypt, saying the country has finally turned the page on military rule.

President Morsi spoke to hundreds of officials and supporters gathered at Cairo University Saturday for his inaugural address, just hours after he took the oath of office as Egypt's first elected civilian president.

During the speech, Mr. Morsi called for a national “rebirth” and urged Egyptians to “put a stop to chaos.” The newly sworn-in president vowed to fight for social justice, and called on the military to go back to its chief duty of protecting Egypt from outside threats.

Turning to foreign affairs, Mr. Morsi pledged support for what he described as the “legitimate rights” of the Palestinian people and called for an end to the bloodshed in Syria.

Mr. Morsi campaigned for president as a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, a group once banned by ousted former president Hosni Mubarak. Once he was officially declared the winner of the presidential election, Mr. Morsi resigned his Brotherhood membership, in keeping with his pledge to represent all Egyptians during his time in office.

Mubarak was driven from office in the massive popular uprising that swept Egypt last year. The ex-leader has since been charged and convicted of ordering a crackdown that killed demonstrators demanding democracy.

Taking the oath of office Saturday morning at Egypt's Constitutional Court, President Morsi vowed to protect Egypt's “modern, civil, constitutional state.”

He said the past year's events have shown that Egypt “is being brought to life as a strong country.”

A day before his inauguration, Mr. Morsi spoke to tens of thousands of supporters in Cairo's Tahrir Square protesting against the ruling military council's sweeping powers. He said he hopes to form an inclusive government of Muslims, Christians and women and saluted Egyptians at home and abroad for their sacrifices during the uprising that cleared the way to freedom.

Mr. Morsi had said he would be sworn into office in front of the parliament building, but later yielded to the military council's insistence on holding the inauguration outside the Constitutional Court. Last Sunday the military council dissolved the lower house of parliament, which was dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, and gave itself additional powers.

Some observers say that disagreement could be the first phase of a prolonged power struggle between the Brotherhood and the military.

The generals ruling Egypt are due to transfer power to the president by July 1. Mr. Morsi already has moved into the presidential palace formerly occupied by Mubarak.