CAIRO — Egypt's President-elect Mohamed Morsi addressed a crowd of thousands of supporters gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square Friday, insisting that he intended to be the president of all Egyptians and that he intended to govern with all the traditional powers of the presidency.
Those declarations set the stage for an ongoing tug-of-war with the country's ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).
Morsi took a symbolic oath of office in front of the crowd in Cairo's Tahrir Square, insisting that his legitimacy comes from the people.
He swears before God and the people that he will be president of all Egyptians and that he is president because of the will of the people.
Morsi also insisted that he would not give in on any of the traditional powers of the presidency, alluding to the key ministerial positions of defense and foreign affairs. A spokesman for Egypt's ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) told Egyptian TV several days ago that SCAF would retain the defense and foreign ministry posts.
The Egyptian president-elect is still expected to take the official oath of office Saturday in front of the country's Supreme Constitutional Court. A tug-of-war between Morsi and the Military Council to reinstate parliament, which was recently dissolved, appears to have failed.
In a strong statement, also insisted that Egypt would remain free in its international relations and dealings, although he did not specifically refer to the 1979 Camp David peace accords with Israel, or Egypt's over three decade old alliance with the US.
He repeats that Egypt is free and will act freely in all its international dealings and in its relations with other countries.
Morsi had reassured international diplomats and visiting US emissaries in recent weeks that he would observe the 1979 Camp David peace treaty. It is not clear if this will change his ultimate political stance.
The president-elect also made a pointed reference to Egypt's blind Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, who is being held in a US prison for collusion in the 1993 attack on New York's World Trade Center. He expressed sympathy for the Sheikh's family, and indicated that the Sheikh, and all other prisoners like him, “should be freed.”
Morsi concluded by insisting that his “doors are open to all” and that he would be president of “all Egyptians” from “every province in the country,” from “every sector of life,” and of “Christians and Muslims.”
Mohamed Morsi's road to the presidency, by Elizabeth Arrott: