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Egypt’s President-elect Mohammed Morsi Promotes ‘Message of Peace’

June 25, 2012 at 12:00 AM EDT
A day after Egypt's run-off election, President-elect Mohammed Morsi began working on assembling a unity government and said Egypt "will preserve the international accords and treaties." Jeffrey Brown recaps the latest developments.

GWEN IFILL: Egypt has a new president, one whose election could represent a sharp turn from the Mubarak era.

Jeffrey Brown has the story.

JEFFREY BROWN: It was a remarkable moment, as thunderous cheers filledCairo’s Tahrir Square on Sunday and thousands of supporters of the MuslimBrotherhood, a party that had been officially outlawed for decades, celebratedthe election of one of their own, Mohammed Morsi, as president of Egypt.

MOHAMED AL GIZAWI, Morsi supporter (through translator): Thank Godfor the results. The revolution has succeeded. The revolution continues.

JEFFREY BROWN: Sixty-year-old Morsi is an American-educated engineer.He won just under 52 percent of the vote in a runoff with Ahmed Shafiq, whoserved as the last prime minister under ousted President Hosni Mubarak.

Speaking on television last night, Morsi promised to be president of allEgyptians.

MOHAMMED MORSI, Egyptian President-Elect (through translator): I’mdetermined with you to build a new Egypt, a national state with a moderndemocratic constitution. And I will spend all my time on this big project.

JEFFREY BROWN: The new president-elect becomes the first Islamist tohead the Egyptian state and the first civilian to hold the office. Last night, healso addressed concerns about Egypt’s international agreements, including withIsrael.

MOHAMMED MORSI (through translator): We will preserve theinternational accords and treaties. We carry a message of peace to the world.

JEFFREY BROWN: An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman welcomed thenews.

YIGAL PALMOR, Spokesman, Israeli Foreign Ministry: We have the greatestrespect for democratic choice by the people. And we look forward to continuingthe cooperation with the Egyptian government and the Egyptian administrationon the basis of the Israel-Egypt peace — peace agreement, which is a jointinterest of both countries.

JUDY WOODRUFF: In Washington today, the State Department’s VictoriaNuland said much more remains to be done in Egypt.

VICTORIA NULAND, State Department Spokeswoman: We want to seepresident-elect Morsi take steps to advance national unity, to uphold universalvalues, to respect the rights of all Egyptians, particularly women, minorities,Christians, et cetera.

JEFFREY BROWN: In fact, as Morsi met today with Egypt’s ruling militarycouncil, the way forward was ambiguous, at best. And it was unclear just howmuch power he will have.

In recent days, Egypt’s highest court ordered the new parliament, dominated byIslamists, to be dissolved. And the generals imposed constitutional changes that give themselves sweeping powers.