World Bulletin / News Desk
Muslim Brotherhood supporters flocked to Cairo's Tahrir Square on Friday to hear Mohamed Mursi speak on the eve of his inauguration as Egypt's first Islamist, civilian president.
The rally's slogan, "Powers of the president", heralds what may prove a prolonged struggle between the Islamists and army generals who have imposed stark curbs on presidential prerogatives before they formally hand over executive authority.
Crowds in Tahrir, the hub of last year's revolt against ousted leader Hosni Mubarak, chanted "Mursi is president of the republic" and waved Egyptian flags with his picture inset.
"A full revolution or nothing. Down, down with military rule," they shouted. "We, the people, are the red line."
The military council that pushed Mubarak aside on Feb. 11, 2011 has supervised a chaotic stop-go transition since then, holding parliamentary and presidential elections, but then effectively negating their outcome to preserve its own power.
Mursi, who attended weekly Muslim prayers at al-Azhar mosque, was expected to address the nation from Tahrir at about 6 p.m. (1600 GMT). He will swear his oath of office at 11 a.m. on Saturday before the Supreme Constitutional Court in Cairo.
The usual venue is parliament, but the same court dissolved the Islamist-led lower house this month in a ruling backed, if not orchestrated, by the army, apparently unwilling to let Islamists control the legislature as well as the presidency.
"Do we accept that parliament is dissolved?" cheerleaders from the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) asked the throng in Tahrir. "No," the party faithful thundered back.
Mursi was declared president last Sunday, a nerve-racking week after a run-off vote in which he narrowly beat ex-air force chief Ahmed Shafik, who was Mubarak's last prime minister.
After being sworn in as the first freely elected civilian president of the most populous Arab state, Mursi will give a speech at Cairo University, a presidency statement said.
Hundreds of protesters have been camped out in Tahrir for weeks to press the army to transfer power to civilians.
"I'm here to tell the military council that we, the people, elected parliament so it is only us, the people, who can dissolve it," said Intissar al-Sakka, a teacher and FJP member.
The military council has long promised to hand over power to the next president by July 1, but army sources said the ceremony had been postponed, without giving a reason or a new date.
The generals have seized new powers this month, giving themselves veto rights over the drafting of a new constitution, naming a National Defence Council to run defence and foreign policies and decreeing their control of all military affairs.
The army may have won the skirmish over where Mursi takes his oath, but the Brotherhood is likely to wage a protracted campaign to loosen the military's grip on the new Egypt.
Yet it will be vital to keep such tensions in check if Egypt is to overcome economic woes that have seen foreign reserves drop by more than half in the turmoil since Mubarak's fall.
The Muslim Brotherhood knows it must focus on the economy to stay popular with voters, who gave it much less support in the presidential poll than in the earlier parliamentary election.
Scenes at the presidential palace occupied by Mubarak for three decades encapsulated the rise of an 84-year-old Islamist movement he had banned, constrained and often persecuted.
Mursi held talks on Thursday with the Muslim Brotherhood's supreme guide Mohamed Badie and consulted clerics from the al-Azhar seat of Islamic learning, Salafis and independent Muslim preachers.
Security guards, still there from the Mubarak era, shook their heads in frank amazement at the bearded conclave.
After the Brotherhood's Badie entered the gates, one remarked: "Good God, these men were in prison before and wouldn't have dared walk past the compound. Look at them now."
Many Egyptians swarmed around outside, hoping to meet the homespun president-elect with grievances and petitions. Security men complained it was hard to impose order because Mursi had given instructions that people should not be turned away.
After the talks, Mursi's visitors at the palace in Cairo's Heliopolis district broke a daylong fast with hundreds of takeout meals in cardboard boxes hauled in by palace guards from an army-owned local restaurant - one of the many commercial interests developed by the military over the decades.
The military, the source of every previous president in the Arab republic's 60-year history, runs business enterprises accounting for an estimated one third of the economy.
It does not intend to jeopardise the $1.3 billion a year it receives in military aid from the United States to back Egypt's 1979 peace treaty with Israel, widely criticised by Islamists.
Mursi has said he will respect Egypt's international obligations and does not want to take the country back to war.
Berlin sends military experts to Erbil to explore ways of better supporting peshmerga troops against ISIL
Opposition commander says more sophisticated weapons needed to defeat ISIL in Syrian Kurdish town Kobani
Israeli authorities closed the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex – for the first time since 1967 – and gunned down a Palestinian suspected of killing a rabbi
Tambuwal defected from the ruling party to the opposition on Wednesday
Hickox, who tested negative for the virus after returning from treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, said that she plans to take the issue to court if Maine did not lift the quarantine
Eyewitnesses said scores of Palestinian students had hurled stones and empty bottles at an Israeli position near Birzeit, a town in northern Ramallah.
The 50 detainees were mainly Syrian but included nine Lebanese and one Palestinian, an army statement said.
Sunday's clashes raised fears of violent youths with no political agenda joining forces with a racist group.
The controversial government-proposed amendment would increase to three the maximum number of five-year presidential terms available to a single individual, opening the door for Compaore – in power since 1987 – to seek reelection next year.
Ministry spokesman Al-Bozum said that some of the names cited by the Egyptian media belonged to residents of the occupied West Bank who had never crossed into Gaza.
With no outright majority, Nidaa Tounes will seek to form a coalition with partners in negotiations that will likely last weeks before a new government is set up
Harun P. travelled to Syria at the end of September 2013 and became a member of the group, which trained and armed him, the prosecutor's statement said.
The Free Syrian Army is critical in the fight against ISIL, Syrian National Coalition leader Hadi al-Bahra said
The Islamic Republic has repeatedly complained of alleged covert U.S. and Israeli attempts to cripple its nuclear programme.
Special rapporteur expresses concern over conflicts with ethnic rebels, situation of Rohingya, media reforms, next year’s election
Twenty-six trucks loaded with construction supplies – including four carrying cement – entered the coastal strip