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Army hands over to Egypt's first Islamist president

By Vision Reporter

Added 1st July 2012 10:37 AM

Mohamed Mursi was sworn in on Saturday as Egypt's first Islamist, civilian and freely elected president, reaping the fruits of last year's revolt against Hosni Mubarak, although the military remains determined to call the shots.

Mohamed Mursi was sworn in on Saturday as Egypt's first Islamist, civilian and freely elected president, reaping the fruits of last year's revolt against Hosni Mubarak, although the military remains determined to call the shots.

 Mohamed Mursi was sworn in on Saturday as Egypt's first Islamist, civilian and freely elected president, reaping the fruits of last year's revolt against Hosni Mubarak, although the military remains determined to call the shots.

The military council that took over after Mubarak's overthrow on February 11, 2011, formally handed power to Mursi later in an elaborate ceremony at a desert army base outside Cairo.

At the ceremony, Mursi hailed what he called a unique model of "how power is transferred from the Egyptian military forces by the will of the people to an elected, civilian power", praising the army for keeping its promise to do so.

Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, who saluted Mursi when he arrived at Heikstep army base for the televised occasion, said: "Now we have an elected president who takes over the keys for ruling Egypt through a direct and free vote."

The handover of power to an Islamist by a military that long backed Mubarak and his suppression of the Muslim Brotherhood was just one moment in a day rich in images that told of how much Egypt has changed, as well as the fragility of its transition.

Egypt remains in political limbo, without a constitution, a lower house of parliament or any clarity about the role of a military anxious to stay in the driving seat, as Islamists and others challenge its right to do so.

Mursi, a bearded engineer who turned to the Brotherhood as a graduate student in Los Angeles, is Egypt's first civilian leader since army officers toppled the king in 1952.

For the 84-year-old Brotherhood, banned and repressed by Mubarak, it marks a dramatic reversal of fortunes.

"God is greatest, above all," said Mursi, 60, at Cairo University at the start of a speech after swearing his oath of office at the Supreme Constitutional Court.

 

"Egypt will not go backwards," Mursi said, pledging to keep the country on a democratic course, but saying it would not "export the revolution" or interfere in the affairs of others.

 

"We carry a message of peace to the world," Mursi said, reaffirming Egypt's commitment to international agreements, which include its U.S.-brokered 1979 peace treaty with Israel.

 

Israel has watched the rise of the Brotherhood in Egypt with apprehension since the fall of Mubarak, who staunchly upheld peace with the Jewish state, even if relations were never warm.

 

Mursi pledged to work to end bloodshed in Syria, scene of the most violent of a string of Arab uprisings.

 

WRANGLING OVER VENUE

 

The president was sworn in by the constitutional court, instead of parliament as is usual, because the court dissolved the Islamist-led lower house earlier this month amid a raft of measures to ensure enduring military influence.

 

The Nile-side constitutional court building where Mursi took his oath is next to the plush military hospital where Mubarak was transferred last week from the prison where he had begun a life term for failing to stop police killings of protesters.

 

The Brotherhood reluctantly accepted the venue, but in a symbolic riposte, Mursi read his oath on Friday to crowds in Cairo's protest hub, Tahrir Square. He told supporters there that the people were the only source of power, in a dig at the generals who see themselves as the state's ultimate arbiters.

Army hands over to Egypt''s first Islamist president

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