New, free Egypt promised by Morsi
ISLAMIST Mohammed Morsi promised a “new Egypt” as he took the oath of office yesterday to become the country’s first freely elected president, succeeding Hosni Mubarak, who was ousted just 16 months ago.
At his inauguration before the Supreme Constitutional Court in Cairo, he also became the Arab world’s first freely elected Islamist president since the overthrow of the monarchy some 60 years ago.
He took the oath before 18 black-robed judges in the Nile-side courthouse built to resemble an ancient Egyptian temple.
“We aspire to a better tomorrow, a new Egypt and a second republic,” Morsi said during a ceremony shown live on state TV.
“Today, the Egyptian people laid the foundation of a new life – absolute freedom, a genuine democracy and stability,” said Morsi, 60, a US-trained engineer from the Muslim Brotherhood, a fundamentalist group that has spent most of the 84 years since its inception as an outlawed organisation persecuted by successive governments.
Hundreds of soldiers and policemen guarded the building as Morsi arrived in a small motorcade. Several hundred supporters gathered outside the court to cheer the new president.
In a departure from the presidential pomp of the Mubarak years, traffic was only briefly halted to allow his motorcade through on the usually busy road linking the city centre with its southern suburbs.
Morsi’s inauguration signals a personal triumph. He was not the Brotherhood’s first choice as president, and was thrown into the presidential race when the group’s original candidate, chief strategist and financier Khairat el-Shater, was disqualified over a Mubarak-era criminal conviction.
Derided as the Brotherhood’s uncharismatic “spare tyre”, his personal prestige has surged since his victory and a speech on Friday which tried to present him as a candidate not just forIslamists but for all those who want to complete the work of the 2011 uprising against Mubarak.
“Egypt today is a civil, national, constitutional and modern state,” Morsi, wearing a blue suit and red tie, told the judges in the wood-panelled chamber where he took the oath of office.
“It is a strong nation because of its people and the beliefs of its sons and its institutions.”
Morsi took a symbolic oath on Friday in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, birthplace of the uprising that ended Mubarak’s authoritarian rule last year, and vowed to reclaim presidential powers stripped from his office by the military council.
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