Egypt's Military Transfers Power After Morsi Sworn In
June 30, 2012
Islamist Mohammed Morsi has been sworn in as Egypt's first freely elected civilian president, and Egypt's military has formally transferred power to him.
In an address at Cairo University after taking the oath of office on June 30, Morsi pledged respect for the Egyptian military, which has been ruling the country since longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak was forced out of office in February, 2011.
Later, at a power transfer ceremony at a military base, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi pledged to support Morsi.
The head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which has ruled Egypt since Mubarak’s ouster, saluted Morsi and awarded him the country’s highest military honor, "the shield of the armed forces."
In his address at Cairo University, Morsi said that "the great Egyptian Army will return to carry out its responsibility of protecting the country's security and its borders."
"I salute them for what they have accomplished and withstood," he said.
However, the candidate of the formerly banned Muslim Brotherhood also several times mentioned the “elected parliament,” dominated by his Islamist allies, that the ruling military council disbanded earlier in June after the Supreme Court ruled that one-third of its members were elected illegally.
Despite the announced power transfer, it remains unclear how the power-sharing arrangement between the new president and military will function.
Since dissolving the parliament, the military has declared itself the legislative power and given itself control over the drafting of a new constitution, which will determine how much power Morsi will in fact wield.
In other remarks in his inaugural address, Morsi pledged that Egypt would respect its international treaties, in an apparent reference to Egypt’s 1979 peace accord with Israel.
He also said Egypt would continue to support the Palestinians and work as a mediator to help unite the rival Palestinian leaderships in the Fatah-led West Bank and the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. Feuding between the factions is seen as hobbling efforts for a peace deal with Israel.
Morsi also called for an end to the conflict in nearby Syria.
"There must be an end to the bloodshed in Syria. We want the bloodshed of our Syrian brothers to stop. And we will work hard in the near future to achieve this end," he said.
The 60-year-old Morsi, a U.S.-trained engineer, won the presidential election, officially with 51.7 percent of the vote against 48.3 for Ahmed Shafiq, the last prime minister under Mubarak.
Morsi becomes Egypt's fifth president since the overthrow of the monarchy some 60 years ago, and the Arab world's first freely elected Islamist head of state.
Copyright (c) 2012. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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