World Bulletin / News Desk
Mohamed Morsy of the Muslim Brotherhood sets about building a civilian administration for Egypt on Monday that can heal a divisive history of oppression and coax a mistrustful army into relaxing its grip on power.
Behind the scenes, talks were already under way between the Islamists and generals to resolve disputes that blew up this month over steps by the ruling military council to hem in the powers of the first freely elected president Egypt has known.
Cairo's Tahrir Square, theatre of the revolution that ousted Hosni Mubarak, exploded in joy - and relief - on Sunday as Morsy was declared the winner of last weekend's presidential run-off against Ahmed Shafik, another scion of the military establishment which has ruled Egypt for 60 years.
The celebrations continued through an unforgettable night after Morsy won by 3.5 percentage points or some 880,000 votes.
Those in Egypt and beyond who feared a win for Shafik might have spelled the end of the Arab Spring acknowledged a triumph for the popular will, and for the army which accepted it. From Syria's opposition came word that Cairo was again a "source of hope" for a people "facing a repressive war of annihilation."
Morsy, a 60-year-old engineer who studied in California and was jailed for his politics by Mubarak's secret police, took his first steps in public to quell some fears: "I am today a president for all Egyptians," he said in an address after what he called "this historic moment, this luminous moment."
He repeated his respect for international treaties - a gesture to Israel.
Barack Obama called him. "The president underscored that the United States will continue to support Egypt's transition to democracy and stand by the Egyptian people as they fulfil the promise of their revolution," the White House said.
The bearded Morsy, smiling occasionally, echoed that in his televised speech, saying he would work with others to see the democratic revolution through: "There is no room now for the language of confrontation," he said.
Morsy, an obscure party official before being catapulted to prominence by the disqualification of the movement's preferred candidate, has little choice but to compromise, and sources in the Brotherhood said a package of agreements, already discussed with senior generals last week, could soon be announced.
Half of those who voted in last month's first round of the election backed neither Morsy nor Shafik and many who voted in the run-off voted negatively - either against Morsy's religious agenda or against Shafik as a symbol of military rule.
"We voted for Morsy reluctantly to prevent Shafik from getting in because if he were president, we would all be hanged," said Mohamed Abdel Latif, 28, a youth activist in the second city of Alexandria. "From today, we will oppose Morsy.
"The Brotherhood must remember that they won because of us and they shouldn't repeat the mistakes of the past."
Shafik, a former air force commander and Mubarak's last prime minister, offered his congratulations and said he was willing to serve in Morsy's administration if asked. Many Christians backed Mubarak PM.
The Brotherhood, conscious of playing a long game, was ready to play its part in a transition. They secured the lion's share in a parliament elected in January and, with the influence that offered over drafting a constitution, plus the presidency, would have been very much in the driving seat.
That was clearly too much for Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi and his Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. With the help of a Mubarak-era judiciary, SCAF dissolved parliament on the eve of the presidential election and then gave itself the legislative power, adding also a potential role in forming a panel to write the constitution. It also revived some powers for martial law.
Critics at home and in the West called it a "soft coup."
Negotiations with army
Senior Brotherhood officials say they have been negotiating in the past week to change some of that. Though both sides deny that any deal was struck over the result of the presidential vote itself, Morsy's election now sets a key reference point around which a power-sharing compromise can be built while the process of constructing a constitutional democracy goes on.
"President Morsy and his team have been in talks with the military council to bring back the democratically elected parliament and other issues," Essam Haddad, a senior Brotherhood official, told Reuters on Monday.
Brotherhood sources told Reuters they hoped the army might allow a partial recall of parliament and other concessions in return for Morsy exercising his powers to name a government and presidential administration in ways the army approves of - notably by extending appointments across the political spectrum.
Military officials have confirmed discussions in the past few days but had no immediate comment on the latest talks.
The Brotherhood has, movement officials said, approached secular reformist politician Mohamed ElBaradei, a former U.N. diplomat and Nobel peace laureate, to take a senior post, possibly as prime minister. ElBaradei has not commented.
Brotherhood officials have said they will press on with street protests to pressure the army but this, along with a number of other contentious issues including to whom and where Morsy swears his oath of office, could be settled soon.
The army wants Morsy sworn in on June 30, meeting a deadline it set itself for handing over Egypt to "civilian rule."
"Nobody should doubt there is going to be deal-making," said analyst Shadi Hamid, director of the Brookings Doha Center. "The (SCAF) still has the tanks and guns and the Brotherhood still understands that. There has to be some temporary power-sharing agreement. There has to be give and take."
“We brought dolls to refer to the children of Gaza,” Neta Golan, a spokesperson for the group, told Anadolu Agency outside the court.
France, the Philippines and the U.S. also decided to pull out staff this week.
The United Nations relief agency’s Commissioner General Pierre Krahenbuhl condemned the killing children in their sleep.
Separately, U.S. lawmakers were working in Congress to provide millions of dollars in additional funding for Israel's "Iron Dome" missile shield.
In the absence of a deal, Israel has ordered its ground forces to focus on locating and destroying a warren of tunnels.
To get aid into Gaza, Iran has to fly it to Egypt and then take it across the Rafah border crossing. The only other option would be to go through Israel, unthinkable for Iran.
A joint rescue team is searching for those missing after a fishing vessel capsized with 48 on board in North Sumatra.
It is likely that the losses sustained by Morganti Development LLC, which owns a stake in the Gaza power plant, will be paid for by U.S. taxpayers, who ironically also help fund the Israeli army.
Talks between Catalan President Artur Mas and Spanish Prime Minister Marianop Rajoy failed to produce any agreement but the region still plans to hold a vote in November.
President Juan Manuel Santos said guerrilla attacks on infrastructure could bring an end to peace negotiations.
Republicans have complained about other unilateral actions that Obama has taken to advance his agenda, from executive orders on immigration policy to same-sex partner benefits.
Brazil approves a record number of refugee applications - more in one day than the whole of 2013.
The protesters headed to the hospital soon after they wrapped up a demonstration in Benghazi's Independence Street in support of the Libyan army and against what they called "terrorism".
"The municipalities had to discharge wastewater into the sea without treatment, which might cause a major health crisis," Nazar Hegazi, head of Gaza municipality, said.
Osama Hamdan, Hamas' foreign relations chief, said lifting the blockade on the Gaza Strip, which has been in place since 2006, is the main demand of Hamas.
The Israeli army may substitute the new reservists with troops that are serving on the Gaza front now to give them some rest.