“This is not the best scenario I anticipated,” said Sarah Kamal, a liberal activist who was in Tahrir Square when Morsi’s victory was announced. She ululated and cheered for him despite criticism from many of her friends that Morsi would endanger a secular Egypt.
“I know they have sold the revolution short before. But they are better than the ‘felool,’” she said, referring to the remnants of the old regime. “I will stand with the Brotherhood against the military for now, and later I will fight off the Brotherhood’s hold,” she added.
In his speech, Morsi sought to reach out to the activists by paying tribute to the nearly 900 protesters killed in the uprising. “I wouldn’t have been here between your hands as the first elected president without … the blood, the tears, and sacrifices of the martyrs,” he said.
A week ago, when the polls were closing in the runoff election, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) issued constitutional amendments that stripped the president’s office of most of its major powers. The ruling generals made themselves the final arbiters over the most pressing issues still complicating the transition— such as writing the constitution, legislating, passing the state budget— and granted military police broad powers to detain civilians.
A court earlier dissolved the freely elected parliament, which was dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, leaving the military also in charge of legislating.
According to the constitutional declaration, the new president won’t appoint the defense minister and will lose the title of “Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.”
Tens of thousands of Morsi’s supporters vowed to stay in the square, pressing for the reversal of those actions by the generals. Mohammed el-Beltagy, a leading member of the Brotherhood and former lawmaker, said the protesters would not leave until the military fulfills its promises to hand over power to a civilian president by July 1.
“The military council must live up to these demands or it would be reneging on its promises, he told Misr 25, the Brotherhood’s TV station. “We are against any confrontation, or violence, or clashes or obstruction of state institutions. We are a peaceful revolution that will insist on meeting its demands.”
The defiant tone of el-Beltagy highlighted the fine line the 84-year-old Muslim Brotherhood group has had to tread amid high expectations from a president with little authority and a powerful adversary.
Ahmed Abdel-Attie, a Morsi campaign manager, told state TV that Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, the head of the military council, called Morsi to congratulate him and that the two will meet Monday.
The military’s moves had drawn international condemnation from human rights groups and the U.S., raising fears that the generals wanted to undercut Egypt’s democratic experience and entrench military rule.
The ultra-conservative Salafi party Al-Nour has mediated between the Brotherhood and the military to ensure a “smooth gradual transition,” said Youssri Hamad, a spokesman for the group. Hamad didn’t discuss details of the mediation but he said this was in part behind the delay in announcing the election results.
The armed forces have been the source of power in Egypt since a military coup in 1952. Since then, it has acquired vast economic interests — giant construction companies, farms, water-bottling facilities and a nationwide chain of gas stations— as well as leading government posts. Civilian oversight has been one of the demands of the revolutionary groups.