Friday, 6 July 2012

Egypt: President Morsi promises a new Egypt

The newly elected President Mohamed Morsi took the oath of office on Saturday, promising “a new Egypt and a second republic” in which the popular-will will be respected and the government will serve the people. “Today, the Egyptian people laid the foundations for a dignified life, complete freedom and a real democracy,” he declared.

He was obliged to take his oath before 18 judges at the Supreme Constitutional Court, the same body that had ordered the dissolution of the parliament of his peers before whom he had expected to take the oath. If he felt uncomfortable he did not show it.

But the previous day he had made clear his real views when he addressed the tumult in Tahrir Square, when he asserted that it was the people who were the fount of power, not the army, not the Supreme Constitutional Court. “The ministers, the government, the army, the police, all are listening to me when I say no power is above this power, no power is above you. You are the rulers. You are the source of this power and authority.”

It was an act of defiance towards the generals but equally he might be held hostage to his declaration. He won just over half the votes of just over half the electorate who cast their ballots. The majority of the people who he said were the source of his legitimacy did not vote for him.

The swearing in of the new president is the most significant single step in the transfer of power, even if the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) re-asserted control over the affairs of the state after the dissolution of parliament. SCAF will exercise power to pass laws in the absence of parliament. It has also revived a long-dormant National Defence Council, dominated by officers, to oversee the military.

For more news and expert analysis about Egypt, please see Egypt Politics & Security.

© 2012 Menas Associates

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