CAIRO — Egyptians picked a conservative Islamist as their first freely elected president, officials announced Sunday, giving the Muslim Brotherhood a platform to challenge entrenched military authority and electrifying the Arab world’s most populous nation with one of the most concrete signs of democratic change since the revolution last year.
Mohamed Morsi’s victory represented a watershed moment for Egyptian Islamists, who were tortured and repressed during decades of autocratic regimes, and it sparked jubilant celebrations in Tahrir Square, the heart of the revolution. But the result raised as many questions as it answered. Morsi will assume a position that was
recently weakened by Egypt’s ruling generals through a constitutional decree. And he will not have the backing of the country’s Islamist-dominated parliament, which was dissolved by a court order.
(The Washington Post) - Egyptian president-elect Mohamed Morsi
Egypt's Presidential Vote
Conservative Islamist Mohammed Morsi has vowed to implement a strict version of Islamic law.
A look at what the new president has to say on regional peace, religion and political transition.
The time has come for the generals in Egypt to stand down.
Massive crowd gathers in Tahrir Square to celebrate the victory of Islamist candidate Mohamed Morsi.
It also remains uncertain whether the low-key, little-known Morsi can serve as a unifying figure in a nation that has splintered politically since the revolution, with many Egyptians fearful that Islamic leadership will impose strict moral codes or try to dominate politics. And though his win will serve as an inspiration for Islamist movements across the region, it is likely to be seen as a potential threat by Israel, which has regarded Egypt as a linchpin of Middle East peace through their 35-year-old treaty.
President Obama called the winner on Sunday and “emphasized his interest in working together with President-elect Morsi,” according to a U.S. statement. But the White House also said in a separate congratulatory announcement that it was “essential for the Egyptian government to continue to fulfill Egypt’s role as a pillar of regional peace, security and stability.”
In a televised victory speech Sunday night, Morsi cast himself as a leader for all Egyptians. He vowed to champion the rights of women and minority Christians, and he voiced conciliatory notes toward the armed forces. In what appeared to be an effort to demonstrate his independence, the Brotherhood announced Sunday that Morsi had resigned from the organization and its political party.
“I will serve all Egypt. There will be no distinction between anybody,” a solemn Morsi said, standing behind a lectern emblazoned with the state insignia. “National unity is the only way to get Egypt out of this difficult time.”
Morsi, 60, who is viewed warily by many secular revolutionaries, paid tribute to the hundreds of Egyptians killed during the 18-day revolt last year that led to longtime president Hosni Mubarak’s removal. Morsi promised the relatives of those slain that he would “not let their blood go to waste.”
In the short term, the election result is unlikely to curb the authority of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, or SCAF, which has ruled Egypt during the chaotic 17 months since Mubarak’s ouster. But it gives the Islamists a forceful injection of credibility, said Eric Trager, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, who was in Cairo on Sunday.