Islamist Mohamed Morsi was sworn in Saturday before Egypt's highest court as the country's first freely elected president, succeeding Hosni Mubarak who was ousted 16 months ago.
Morsi promised a "new Egypt" as he was inaugurated as the Arab world's first freely elected Islamist president, became Egypt's fifth head of state since the overthrow of the monarchy some 60 years ago.
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He took the oath before Supreme Constitutional Court in its Nile-side seat built to resemble an ancient Egyptian temple.
"We aspire to a better tomorrow, a new Egypt and a second republic," Morsi told the judges of the court after taking the oath in a solemn ceremony shown live on state television.
"Today, the Egyptian people laid the foundation of a new life - absolute freedom, a genuine democracy and stability," the Muslim Brotherhood member said.
Morsi swore "by the great allah" to "protect the republican system, respect the constitution and the rule of law, uphold the interests of the people and protect the homeland's independence."
The Islamist president also pledged to adhere to the separation of powers principle.
"I will fulfill my job to safeguard the independence of the legislative and judicial branches. I respect the rulings of the legislative court and the judges. Praise allah that we have such institutions, and praise allah that we have such dedicated people in these institutions," Morsi declared.
"Today Egypt is a civil, national, constitutional and modern country," the new Egyptian president stated. .
Morsi has vowed to reclaim presidential powers stripped from his office by the military council that took over after Mubarak's overthrow.
Morsi before Tahrir Square speech on Friday (Photo: AFP)
But by agreeing to take the oath before the court, rather than before parliament as is customary, he is bowing to the military's will in an indication that the contest for power will continue.
Morsi did not mention Israel, but in a speech made after his swearing in ceremony he said that the new regime in Cairo "Stands by the Palestinian people and will work so that they obtain all their legitimate rights."
Morsi also pledged to promote internal Palestinian reconciliation, between Fatah and Hamas, adding that the Palestinian nation will "retrieve its land and sovereignty."
He reiterated that the new regime "Will spare no effort to maintain our nation's national security and borders. Our armed forces will protect us against anyone thinking to threaten or harm Egypt."
'Will of the people prevailed'
Morsi took a symbolic oath on Friday in Cairo's Tahrir Square, birthplace of the 2011 uprising, before tens of thousands of mostly Islamist supporters.
A US-trained engineer, the 60-year-old Morsi was scheduled to deliver his inauguration speech at Cairo University, established in 1908 as a bastion of secular education but which became a stronghold of Islamist student groups in the 1970s. Many of those student leaders have gone on to become senior members of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, the nation's oldest and most powerful Islamist movement.
A handover ceremony hosted by the military generals who ruled Egypt since Mubarak's ouster follows.
Morsi's Friday speech in Tahrir Square was filled with dramatic populist gestures. The 60-year-old president-elect staked a claim to the legacy of the uprising and voiced his determination to win back the powers stripped from his office by the generals.
The ceremony (Photo: AFP)
Addressing a crowd that repeatedly shouted, "We love you Morsi!" he began his speech by joining them in chanting, "Revolutionaries and free, we will continue the journey." Later he opened his jacket wide to show that he was not wearing a bullet-proof vest. "I fear no one but God and I work for you," he told the cheering supporters. As he was leaving the podium, he pushed aside two army soldiers from his security detail to wave goodbye to the crowd.
"Everybody is hearing me now. The government ... the military and the police. ... No power above this power," he told the crowd. "I reaffirm to you I will not give up any of the president's authorities. I can't afford to do this. I don't have that right."
The generals dissolved the Islamist-packed legislature after the same court that swore him in Saturday ruled that a third of its members were elected illegally.
The military has also declared itself the legislative power. It gave itself control over the drafting of a new constitution and sidelined Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, which had sought to influence the process by packing it with Islamists.
The generals also created a National Security Council to formulate key domestic and foreign policies. Military officers outnumber civilians sitting on the council by about two-to-one, and decisions are made by a simple majority.
In his Friday speech, Morsi repeatedly returned to his main themes — the will of the people, the importance of unity and sticking to the goals of last year's revolution.
He promised to reject any efforts to take away the "power of the people," telling his supporters: "You are the source of legitimacy and whoever is protected by anyone else will lose."
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