(Photo: Reuters/Egyptian Presidency/Handout)
Leader of Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party Mohammed Morsi was Saturday sworn in as Egypt's first Islamist president amid concerns over his ability to tackle the military generals and the future of Cairo's peace deal with Israel.
Morsi's inauguration speech at Cairo University on Saturday disappointed many revolutionaries after he praised the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), ahramonline reported. In his speech, the newly sworn-in president thanked the SCAF for successfully guarding the country's interests since the fall of Mubarak, it said.
"I left the speech disappointed," Mohamed El-Kassas, a member of the liberal-Islamist Egyptian Current Party and former member of the Muslim Brotherhood, was quoted as saying. "It was much weaker than the one he gave in Tahrir Square [on Friday]. We were told to be quiet when we started to chant against military rule in the university hall, and he complimented the military council too much."
Before announcing Morsi's victory in the run-off presidential election last week, the SCAF amended the interim constitution, stripping the new president of all major powers. The amendments granted the armed forces the right to run its affairs independent of the new president, required the president to seek military's approval in case of a war, gave legislative powers back to the generals, and secured the military's authority over the drafting of a new constitution.
The military generals' move was partly aimed at gaining an upper hand in negotiations in the president's expected attempts to wrest power from them.
At the oath ceremony before a court on Saturday, Farouk Sultan, the president of the court, was quoted as saying to Morsi, "We welcome you in this Supreme Constitutional Court and we appreciate your presence here today in this great judicial institution." Sultan said Morsi's "physical presence here today is a real symbol of support for constitutional legitimacy and upholding the law over everyone."
After taking the oath, Morsi took a tough stand against the judges' role in the dissolution of parliament. "I respect the judiciary and the legislature and I will work to keep them independent from each other and from presidential power," he was quoted as saying in his speech. "The judicial power, the executive power, the legislative power – we will all go forward together."
After the Islamists won majority in the Egypt's parliamentary election six months ago, they formed an Islamist-dominated constituent assembly to draft the new constitution. However, a court ruling dissolved the assembly. And later, another court ordered the parliament also dissolved.
"Egypt will not go backward," Morsi said in the speech. "In the new Egypt, the president will be an employee, a servant to the people."
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is learnt to have written to Morsi, urging him to maintain peace between the two countries. Netanyahu's letter came days after reports that Morsi might reconsider the peace deal with Israel, according to Haaretz.
Netanyahu "stressed Israel's desire to continue cooperation and to strengthen the peace" and "emphasized that honoring the (peace) agreement is in the interest of both countries," the Israeli daily said.
Egypt's Christians, who account for about one-tenth of the country's population, also fear that Morsi's victory might lead to Islamization of the country and marginalization of religious minorities.