CAIRO, Jun 28 – Egypt was to decide Thursday the venue for Islamist Mohamed Morsi’s swearing in as the nation’s first civilian president, as Washington praised the military for facilitating a “free” poll.
Media reports said that Morsi remained in talks with a cross-section of Egyptian society ahead of appointing a prime minister and a cabinet that would largely comprise of technocrats.
Morsi’s spokesman Yasser Ali told the official MENA news agency that the venue for the Islamist’s swearing in ceremony was to be decided Thursday.
Traditionally the president takes the oath in Egypt’s parliament but the country’s top court has ordered what was an Islamist-dominated parliament to be disbanded.
The military subsequently assumed legislative powers and also formed a powerful national security council that is headed by the president but dominated by generals.
Media reports said that Morsi could take the oath in front of the constitutional court building, but by doing so he would be acknowledging the court’s decision to dissolve the parliament.
The president-elect meanwhile was “working on reaching some compromises on various issues so that all the parties are able to work together,” Egyptian media quoted a Morsi aide as saying on Wednesday.
Morsi, Egypt’s first civilian president, and its first elected leader since an uprising ousted president Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, still has to contend with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.
The SCAF, which took control after Mubarak resigned, will retain broad powers even after it formally transfers control to Morsi at the end of June.
The president-elect has already met Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, the head of the SCAF, a delegation from Al-Azhar, the highest authority in Sunni Islam, as well as from the Coptic Christian church, whose members have voiced concern over the election of an Islamist president.
Newspapers said Morsi had likewise held talks with families of “martyrs” killed in last year’s uprising to discuss their demands for renewed trials of those responsible.
On the political front, Morsi has to face what is a powerful military.
The military reserves the right to appoint a new constituent assembly should the one elected by parliament be disbanded by a court decision expected on September 1.
But the Muslim Brotherhood has insisted that only parliament can appoint the assembly.
Morsi was the Brotherhood’s presidential candidate, but he resigned from the movement in order to take the top job, pledging to represent all Egyptians.
“All these details are on the table for discussion,” a senior aide to Morsi said on Tuesday of the military’s powers. “Nothing has been settled yet, and no decision has been taken.”
— Clinton wishes Morsi, praises Egyptian military —
A court ruling on Tuesday pushed back the reach of the military in a ruling welcomed by human rights groups.
Egypt’s administrative court suspended a justice ministry decision that had empowered the military to arrest civilians, responding to an appeal by 17 rights groups against the controversial June 13 decree.
The head of military justice, Adel al-Mursi, said earlier this month that the decree was necessary after the state of emergency expired on May 31.
But the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights watchdog welcomed the court decision, saying the decree had given the military the right to arrest people for “resisting the rulers and insulting them.”
The decree infuriated activists and protesters, who for years had campaigned to end to the state of emergency, which granted police wide powers of arrest and during the Mubarak era was often used to curb dissent.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton congratulated Morsi as well as praised the military for facilitating the election.
“We have heard some very positive statements so far,” Clinton said, noting Morsi’s pledge to honour international obligations, “which would, in our view, cover the peace treaty with Israel,” signed in 1979.
“We expect President Morsi to demonstrate a commitment to inclusivity that is manifested by representatives of the women of Egypt, of the Coptic Christian community, of the secular, non-religious community, and young people,” Clinton added.
She lauded the Egyptian military, saying it “deserves praise for facilitating a free, fair and credible election.”