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Egyptians Praise and Protest Installation of Interim President Mansour

July 4, 2013 at 12:00 AM EDT
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Egypt’s new leader called for reconciliation today, even as the army arrested key members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the party of deposed President Mohammed Morsi.

Cheers of celebration erupted in Tahrir Square today, as Egyptian military jets flew in formation over the streets of Cairo, marking the installation of an interim president.

State television broadcast live the swearing-in of Adly Mansour, the former chief justice of Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court.

ADLY MANSOUR, interim Egyptian president (through translator): I vow to safeguard the republican system and to respect the law and constitution and to look after the interests of the people and to preserve the independence of the homeland and its safety.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Mansour vowed to uphold the spirit of the 2011 revolution …

ADLY MANSOUR (through translator): The guarantee of the continuity of the revolution’s spirit carries the hope for us that the values of this revolution will be upheld, the first of which is to put an end to the idea of worshipping the leader and creating a half-divine entity out him.

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JUDY WOODRUFF: … and promised to quickly organize new presidential and parliamentary elections. He was chosen by the nation’s military leaders yesterday, after they deposed President Mohammed Morsi.

Anti-Morsi demonstrators welcomed the change in leadership.

MAN: It is the majority of the Egyptian people who forced the army to give back the right we gave it to Mr. Morsi. He didn’t behave correctly, so that we told him, give it back to us and we are going to choose somebody else.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But Morsi supporters denounced the military’s actions.

MAHMOUD GOMAA, Morsi supporter (through translator): We reject the rule of the military.

We will reject it with peaceful moves, but we will confront it, but not with Molotovs, like they do. But we will not allow the state to go backwards by tens of years.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Later, Mansour did offer an olive branch to Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood party. He told journalists: “The Muslim Brotherhood group is part of this people and are invited to participate in building the nation, as nobody will be excluded, and if they respond to the invitation, they will be welcomed.”

But while Brotherhood officials asked supporters not to resort to violence, they said the group would refuse to work with the new political system.

Meanwhile, Egyptian security officials took the group’s supreme leader, Mohammed Badie, into custody, one of more than 200 Brotherhood and other Islamist leaders on a military wanted list. And it placed Morsi and at least a dozen of his aides under house arrest.

Reactions flooded in from around the region. Turkey and Tunisia were critical. Tunisia’s ruling Ennahda party released a statement condemning the action, calling it a flagrant coup. But, in Syria, President Bashar al-Assad praised the action, saying it meant the end of political Islam.

The Obama administration is treading carefully in its response to the developments in Egypt. In a written statement, the president acknowledged the grievances of the Egyptian people,but said he was deeply concerned about the military’s removal of Morsi and the future of democracy in Egypt.

At the White House, President Obama met on this holiday with members of his national security team to discuss the situation in Egypt. His staff has contacted officials in Cairo today.