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Analysts: Morsi's Inauguration 1st Salvo in Egypt Power Struggle

  • Elizabeth Arrott

CAIRO - Egyptian President-elect Mohamed Morsi will be sworn in Saturday, and the location of the ceremony will mark his first public challenge to the nation's powerful military.

Egypt's President-elect Mohamed Morsi speaks during his first televised address to the nation at the Egyptian Television headquarters, Cairo June 24, 2012.

Egypt's President-elect Mohamed Morsi speaks during his first televised address to the nation at the Egyptian Television headquarters, Cairo June 24, 2012.

Egypt's current ruling military council says Mr. Morsi will take the oath of office in front of the constitutional court. But the president-elect has vowed to assume his post in front of parliament - a parliament dissolved by the ruling military council.

It is the first showdown of what many analysts here believe will be a prolonged power struggle between Mr. Morsi and the council, which had promised to leave the political scene by next week.

Rania al Malki is the editor of the Monocle, a new online news site. She said the stakes over location are high. “If Morsi backs down on this announcement that he's going to be sworn in before parliament, it's going to be an indication of the general tone of his tenure,” she said.

Al Malki and others consider the problems with the military council Mr. Morsi's biggest challenge, but she said other pillars of the ousted government of Hosni Mubarak will also give him difficulty.

“Right now he's also coming into a very hostile environment," al-Malki said. "I mean the holdovers from the previous regime control the state bureaucracy in general and I think it's going to be difficult for him to navigate that hostile territory.”

Political activist and blogger Wael Khalil believes Mr. Morsi is well aware of the resistance he will encounter. “To get rid of the old regime - you cannot really get rid of it when you get power. It's not like a key to all the dark holes of the old regime,” he said.

And in many ways, said some observers, Mr. Morsi will need to work with existing power centers on such key issues as security and the economy. Activist Khalil argued expectations are high, and Mr. Morsi has no choice but to move quickly.

“The challenge is really to tackle the real problems and to make a quick improvement - not to solve all the problems, but he needs to make the revolution really pay for the majority of Egyptians, which hasn't happened till now,” Khalil said.

But with undefined powers, a skeptical public, and a military leadership digging in, Mr. Morsi faces an uphill battle, the first skirmish of which will play out at his inauguration.
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