Egypt President-elect To Head To Tahrir SquareJune 29th, 2012 11:32 am Associated Press
CAIRO (AP) — Egypt’s president-elect plans Friday to address thousands who have camped out in Cairo’s Tahrir Square to demonstrate against the military’s hold on power despite the election of a new civilian leader, a nod to the protesters who supported his bid for leadership.
Mohammed Morsi of the Islamist group, the Muslim Brotherhood, is the first president to be elected after the uprising that forced longtime leader Hosni Mubarak to step down. But he is already facing a serious challenge after the ruling generals who oversee the transition took a series of decisions that undermine the powers of his office before his swearing-in.
Morsi’s spokesman, Yasser Ali, said the president-elect wants to stand with the thousands who have been in the square for over a week to express concern about the power grabs.
“He wants to confirm that people are the source of his power,” Ali said. “He wants to show unity with his people over issues of the transition, which is now ending.”
The ruling generals said they will transfer power to an elected president by July 1. But days before Morsi was declared winner, they gave themselves sweeping powers that undercut the authority of the president. The generals’ constitutional declaration also designated them the country’s legislature, following a court decision that dissolved the country’s first freely elected parliament, which was dominated by Islamists.
Protesters took to the streets, demanding that the generals rescind the declaration and reinstate the parliament.
Morsi’s first test in his power struggle with the generals will be the venue of his oath-taking ceremony.
He will be sworn in before a high court Saturday. Traditionally, presidents are to be sworn in before parliament. For many of the protesters, Morsi’s swearing-in before the court, as dictated by the generals’ constitutional declaration, was a concession to the military.
“We demand from the president of the republic that he calls off the constitutional declaration, reinstate the parliament as it was, and to stand here among us to be sworn in and swear he has all his powers,” said a preacher in the square who addressed the crowd before Morsi arrived.
“From now on, we make our demands to the president of the republic, not the military council. The military council no longer rules Egypt.”
Ali said Morsi’s agreement to take oath before the court does not mean the battle to regain his powers is over.
“This is an affirmation that (Morsi) respects the law and constitution,” he said. “It doesn’t mean approval of the declaration.”
Speaking to newspapers editors Thursday, Morsi said there are still discussions on how to on how to implement the law dissolving the parliament. The court decision declared a third of the elected seats unconstitutional and Brotherhood lawyers argue it is still possible to only dissolve that third. Morsi urged patience.
Morsi, the first elected Islamist leader of an Arab country, is also trying to reach out to many of the liberal and secular forces that were behind the uprising. They, along with Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority, fear Morsi would work to establish a religious state. Most of those groups have stayed out of the protest in Tahrir.
However, the prominent April 6 youth movement took part in the square protest.
“We should be patient with one another, two, three or four years, and try to live together in this atmosphere of freedom and democracy after the revolution,” he told the editors, according to comments published in the state-run Al-Ahram daily. “This is definitely a better atmosphere than before. But there are big challenges.”
Before heading to Tahrir, Morsi prayed in Al-Azhar mosque. Al-Azhar is the Sunni world’s most prestigious learning institution, and represents moderate Islam. Morsi’s visit there is an acknowledgement of respect to the institution.
Protesters in the square chanted, “The military council should leave tonight,” and, “The president takes the oath in the square.”