Field Marshal Gen. Hussein Tantawi, Egypt's military ruler, presents Mohammed Morsi, the new president, with the Shield of the Armed Forces, the military's highest honor, at a ceremony following Morsi's inauguration Saturday at a base near Cairo.
Promising a “new Egypt” and unwavering support to the powerful military, the Islamist launched his four-year term as the first freely elected president, but with a potentially dangerous quest to wrest back from the generals the full authority of his office.
“The (ruling) Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has honored its promise not to be a substitute for the popular will and the elected institutions will now return to carry out their duties as the glorious Egyptian army returns to being devoted to its mission of defending the nation's borders and security,” he said, drawing a line in the sand.
If Morsi succeeds, his Muslim Brotherhood will likely be emboldened to press ahead with realizing the longtime goal of making Egypt an Islamic state. Otherwise the military — which has been reluctant to give up the power it assumed after Hosni Mubarak's ouster — will continue its stranglehold on the country for years, maybe decades, to come.
The yearning for stability was expressed by prominent Egyptians everywhere. Gamal Eid, a well-known rights lawyer and activist, saw in Morsi's inauguration the chance for someone in power to be held accountable. “Now the ball is in the president's court.”
Curiously, Morsi made no mention of the Brotherhood's goal of bringing Egypt more in alignment with Islamic teachings in three speeches he delivered on Saturday, with his citation of a handful of Quranic verses the only sign of his political orientation. He also did not raise the case of the Egyptian-born blind sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, who is jailed in the U.S. for plotting to blow up New York City landmarks and assassinate Mubarak. Morsi vowed to work for his release, along with political detainees in Egypt, in Friday's speech at Tahrir Square.
— From wire reports