Islamist Mohammed Morsi promised a “new Egypt” as he took the oath of office Saturday to become the country’s first freely elected president, succeeding Hosni Mubarak who was ousted 16 months ago.
At his inauguration before the Supreme Constitutional Court, Morsi also became the Arab world’s first freely elected Islamist president and Egypt’s fifth head of state since the overthrow of the monarchy some 60 years ago. He took the oath before the court’s 18 black-robed judges 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 said during 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,” said Morsi, a 60-year-old U.S.-trained engineer from the Muslim Brotherhood, a fundamentalist group that has spent most of the 84 years since its inception as an outlawed organization harshly targeted by successive governments.
Hundreds of soldiers and policemen guarded the building as Morsi arrived shortly after 11 a.m. local time (9 a.m. GMT) in a small motorcade. Only several hundred supporters gathered outside the court to cheer the new president and, in a departure from the presidential pomp of the Mubarak years, traffic was only briefly halted to allow his motorcade through on the usually busy road linking the city center with its southern suburbs.
Morsi’s inauguration signals a personal triumph. He was not the Brotherhood’s first choice as president, and was thrown into the presidential race when the group’s original candidate, chief strategist and financier Khairat el-Shater, was disqualified over a Mubarak-era criminal conviction.
Derided as the Brotherhood’s uncharismatic “spare tire,” his personal prestige has surged since his victory and his delivery of a Friday speech that tried to present him as a candidate not just of Islamists but of all those who want to complete the work of the 2011 uprising against the authoritarian Mubarak.
“Egypt today is a civil, national, constitutional and modern state,” Morsi, wearing a blue business suit and a red tie, told the judges in the wood-paneled chamber where he took the oath of office. “It is a strong nation because of its people and the beliefs of its sons and its institutions.”
Morsi later traveled to Cairo University where he was to make his inauguration address. He was given an official welcome by an army band that played the national anthem as he stood to attention. Military ruler Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi was in attendance. His arrival was greeted with chants of, “The army and the people are one hand,” from the hundreds gathered in the university’s main lecture room.
Established in 1908 as a bastion of secular education, Cairo University later 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 took a symbolic oath on Friday in Tahrir Square, birthplace of the uprising that ended Mubarak’s authoritarian rule last year, and vowed to reclaim presidential powers stripped from his office by the military council that took over from the ousted leader.
But by agreeing to take the official 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’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.
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.”
Morsi’s defiant tone, however, could not conceal that by agreeing to take the oath before the court, rather than before parliament as is customary, he was bowing to the military’s will.
The generals dissolved the Islamist-packed legislature after the same court that will swear 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 the drafting panel 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.”
A copy of the Parliament Hansard detailing Sri Gading MP Mohamad Aziz’s ‘hang Ambiga’ faux pas circulated online by a DAP leader has generated fresh criticisms against the controversial Umno politician The greatest number of freeloaders and rent collectors i.e. the EP’s who receive money not doing any gainful work are also among those who identify themselves as ‘Malay’. Mohamad Aziz, Mohamad Shahrum, Salleh Kalbi- who elected you to become MPs anyway. This round all of you should step down. You are earning the wrath of the people by doing this. After 55 years of Merdeka, stop calling people pendatang. Please go and get yourself an education and stop acting like gansters and make such disparaging remarks. You insult our own Malaysians not enough, you dare to insult the Africans. Who let them in anyway, on the premise of promoting Malaysian education overseas? Maybe, you guys should question the ministry which issued so many educational licenses out to all those educational entrpreneurs. Quickie get rich schemes such as the hawking of AP’s have been been specially devised for this cancerous growth on the nation’s fabric. With all these known overt racist insults from scUMNO throughout the 55 years since merdeka, it is nonsense to call this land a “nation”. It’s just a country where the governance itself stands against the possibility of ‘nation building’, a term it most wrongly used.The racist name calling by UMNO cronies and war lords.They call non malays cina,India,Keling,Babi,kaki botol,kulit hitam,kopi o,mata sepit,penipu,pendatang,balik India atau cina. Time to face up to reality and discard a sickening Government. Some of UMNO’s MPs are form five Dropouts, some could be Form Three dropouts, these are people who struggle to tell Shit from Clay so how can the Rakyats expect these MPs to lead them ??Every slightest topic that they cannot come out with a sound counter argument they would resort to the same old phrase ” leave the country if you do not like whats happening”.How can we move together as a nation when the mentality and the mindset of some of our politicians are such bigots and racists. When the President of USA is already of African American race we are still caught in a time warp and are still in divisive and race politics. I am not too sure what our education system is churning out and this is probably another product of BTN. It won’t surprise me that due to UMNO’s hegemonic politics their coalition partners will be wiped out from GE13. Gerakan is already gone and MCA and MIC will follow suit. Then we will be left with a solely Malay based party in the corridor of power which would mean worse racial polarisation. Despite all the prejudice against the Indians for their dark skin especially, NOT EVEN ONE of the bigots in Malaysia has until today shown any intelligence equal to that exhibited by a number of those people whom they so much despise. We all know of the famous Indians. But here is one known only to and much respected by mathematicians and theoretical astrophysicists— Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar. In 1928, while sailing from India to UK to study at Cambridge, he worked out what is known as ‘Chandrasekhar’s limit’. Besides Einstein himself, only two others at that time were familiar with general relativity—the British astronomer Sir Arthur Eddington and Chandrasekhar. In 1928, Malayans were still as good as primitives. As for the problems caused by immigrants, Mohamad Aziz has amply illustrated his abyssal ignorance of Malaysia’s affairs in not knowing who have been responsible for their presence in Malaysia. When you have MP’s like him, you don’t wonder why Malaysia is retrogressing.YB Tian Chua should not be asked to leave Malaysia if he feels unsafe here – BN Government should leave Putrajaya should they fail to make this country safe…
Mohamed Morsi has been sworn in before Egypt’s highest court as the country’s first freely elected president, succeeding Hosni Mubarak who was toppled 16 months ago.
Morsi became Egypt’s fifth head of state since the overthrow of the monarchy some 60 years ago.
He took the oath on Saturday before the Supreme Constitutional Court in their Nile-side courthouse built to resemble an ancient Egyptian temple.
Morsi has vowed to reclaim presidential powers stripped from his office by the military council that took over after Mubarak’s overthrow.
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.
“Today is the birthday of the second republic,” said one of the judges in a preamble to the ceremony, which was broadcast live by state television.
Morsi had wanted the ceremony to take place in parliament, in keeping with the country’s interim constitution, but the ruling military dissolved the Islamist-dominated house earlier this month after a court order.
He pre-empted the court ceremony by swearing himself in at Tahrir Square and warning off generals trying to curb his powers.
Morsi praised Muslims and Christians alike in front of crowds that packed the birthplace of the revolt that overthrew his predecessor Hosni Mubarak last year.
In a rousing speech, he promised dignity and social justice and swore to uphold the constitution and “the republican system”, reciting the words of an oath which he will now formally take in front of the supreme constitutional court.
“I will look after the interests of the people and protect the independence of the nation and the safety of its territory,” he said and promised to preserve a civil state.
Morsi, who resigned as chairman of the Freedom and Justice Party, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, promised to end torture and discrimination. He also issued several challenges to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), Egypt’s military rulers.
He insisted that “no institution will be above the people,” critiquing an army which has sought to shield itself from parliamentary oversight. “You are the source of authority,” he told the crowd.
Morsi also vowed to work for the release of civilians arrested by the army since the revolution; more than 12,000 people have been tried by military tribunals since February 2011, according to local human rights groups.
‘I don’t fear anyone but God’
The symbolic oath was a way for Morsi to defuse a lingering political problem. The president traditionally takes the oath of office before parliament, but the legislature was dissolved earlier this month by a high court ruling.
In response, the ruling SCAF shifted the venue to the court, but Morsi was reluctant to take the oath there, for fear of appearing to support the court’s ruling.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party had the largest share of seats in parliament, and has vowed to fight its dissolution.
Much of his speech took a populist tone. He spoke for several minutes from behind a lectern, then stepped away to address the crowd more directly.
At one point, he lifted up his suit jacket to show he was not wearing body armour. “I don’t fear my people,” he said. “I don’t fear anyone but God.”
He also spoke briefly about Egypt’s foreign relations, promising to improve relations with neighbours in Africa and the Middle East, and to “keep the peace”.
“We will never give up the rights of Egyptians abroad,” he said. “Respecting the will of the people is the basis of our foreign relations.”
The president-elect tried to reassure several groups worried about what a Muslim Brotherhood presidency means for Egypt. He made several mentions of “artists and intellectuals”, promising to make Egypt a cultural and artistic leader.
On the other hand, in a remark sure to worry Western leaders, Morsi also promised to work to free Omar Abdel Rahman, the Egyptian cleric currently serving a life sentence in the United States for planning the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center. His pledge was most likely a sop to the Salafi groups which have made Abdel Rahman’s release a prominent issue.
Not the end of military rule
Morsi will formally take his oath on Saturday morning, and then travel to Cairo University to deliver an inauguration speech.
He will take office amidst a great deal of political uncertainty. He swore to uphold the constitution, but Egypt still does not have a permanent constitution, only a series of “constitutional declarations” issued by the ruling generals.
Shortly before parliament was dissolved, lawmakers appointed a 100-member assembly to draft a new constitution. That panel, too, may be dissolved by court order, though the administrative court hearing the case says it will not issue a ruling until July.
The generals are keen to portray Saturday’s swearing-in ceremony as a formal handover of control to a civilian government. But SCAF will continue to wield a great deal of power, perhaps more than Morsi: The military council will control legislative authority, and the Egyptian budget, until a new parliament is elected later this year.
It is also unclear how much power Morsi will have over the military or Egypt’s sprawling security services, which spent decades oppressing the Muslim Brotherhood.
Although Bersih co-chief Ambiga Sreenevasan did not say it should be Umno-BN lawmakers who should be hung, her retort that giving away citizenship in exchange for votes is treason enough makes it clear that if anyone deserved capital punishment, it should Prime Minister Najib Razak’s coalition, which has been accused of desperate tactics to win the coming general election.
“As for treason, asking for free and fair elections is not treason. Giving away citizenship for votes is,” Ambiga was reported as saying byMalaysian Insider.
She was responding to a comment from Umno’s Sri Gading MP Mohamad Aziz, who was busy in Parliament on Tuesday night ‘defending’ his coalition on several issues.
Umno-BN has been accused of running a racket to ‘sell’ citizenships to foreign workers, including the illegals, where they are promised permanent resident status if they voted for the BN in the coming general election.
Punish this ‘samseng’
Meanwhile, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng has called for Mohamad to be punished.
“Clearly these remarks are inflammatory, designed to stir disaffection, extremism and racism. It was directed against her because she’s a woman, Hindu and Indian,” Lim who is also the Bagan MP and Penang Chief Minister told a press conference on Wednesday.
“This is the first time in history that a lawmaker is demanding for the murder of someone.”
DAP elected representatives plan to lodge simultaneous police reports against Mohamad for his “samseng-like”, “seditious” and “racist” remarks against Ambiga, the receipient of the prestigious Women of Courage award from the US and the Knight of the Legion of Honour award from France.
Is this the ‘quality’ of Umno MPs?
Mohamad Aziz’s reckless replies aimed to stir controversy raised eyebrows – sparking speculation that he was trying to “catch Najib’s attention”.
“Shouldn’t we also hang Ambiga for treason towards the King? Traitors should be punished as harshly as possible,” the Sri Gading MP had told Parliament.
He was referring to the April 28 Bersih 3.0 rally for clean elections, where violence erupted after the police launched one of the bloodiest crackdowns on civilians in recent history .
Malaysia will have to hold its 13th general election by the first half of 2013 and Najib has said he is now in process of finalizing the final list of ‘winnable’ candidates.
Hanging Ambiga as surreal as using Bersih 3.0 to topple the BN
More than 250,000 Malaysians had crowded the vicinity of the Dataran Merdeka venue of the Bersih sit-in protest. All had gone smoothly and crowd control was exemplary until an hour before the 4pm closing time, when the police suddenly fired tear gas canisters directly into the crowd.
LRT stations were closed off and the civilian protesters found themselves trapped at the mercy of ‘vigilante’ groups of police personnel. Hundreds of people were severely beaten and arrested.
Najib has blamed the violence on Opposition Leader Awar Ibrahim and PKR deputy president Azmin Ali, insisting that the police were forced to take tough action as Anwar and his Pakatan Rakyat coalition were using the rally to topple the BN government.
Despite nationwide ridicule for Najib’s claims, and the mountain of visual evidence that showed they were untrue, the PM and Umno president has stuck to his allegation and has charged Anwar and Azmin for breaking the controversial Peaceful Assembly law.
“‘Off with her head!!’ Sounds like Alice in Wonderland! The statement, of course, reflects more on the maker than on me. But seriously, I have a question for this MP. Are the reforms sought by Bersih going to be fully implemented before the 13th GE