Appeal for stability as Egypt’s president takes over

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Egypt’s new president has told Egyptians it is time to build a more stable future and called on them to work hard so that their rights and freedoms may grow.

Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, a former military chief who ousted Egypt’s first freely elected leader last July, was addressing a ceremony held at a presidential palace in Cairo hours after he was sworn in by the Supreme Constitutional Court.

Mr el-Sissi also thanked the outgoing interim president, judge Adly Mansour.

Both men later signed the “handover of power document” in the presence of dozens of local and foreign dignitaries.

“Let us differ for the sake of our nation and not over it, and in a unifying national march in which every party listens to the other,” Mr el-Sissi said.

“The presidency of Egypt is a great honour and a huge responsibility,” Mr el-Sissi told local and foreign dignitaries gathered at an opulent Cairo palace.

Under his rule, he said, Egypt will work for regional security and stability. “It is time for us to build a future that is more stable and pen a new reality for the future of this nation,” he said.

Mr el-Sissi, 59, earlier took the oath of office before the Supreme Constitutional Court at the tribunal’s Nile-side headquarters in a suburb south of Cairo, the same venue where Mohammed Morsi, now on trial for charges that carry the death penalty, was sworn in two years ago.

The building is a short distance away from a military hospital where longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak, toppled by the 2011 uprising, is being held.

Mr Mubarak was convicted last month on corruption charges and sentenced to three years in prison. He is also being retried over the killing of protesters during the 18-day revolt.

Mr el-Sissi is Egypt’s eighth president since the overthrow of the monarchy in 1953. With the exception of Mr Morsi and two civilians who served in an interim capacity, all of Egypt’s presidents have come from the military.

Mr el-Sissi won a landslide victory in presidential elections held last month, receiving nearly 97 per cent of the vote, with a turnout of 47.45 per cent.

The three-day election was declared free of fraud but was tainted by the extensive curbs on press and civil freedoms and a massive crackdown on supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood. Many democracy protesters say Mr el-Sissi has revived Mr Mubarak’s police state.

In interviews, Mr El-Sissi made it clear that his priorities are security and the economy, maintaining that free speech must take a back seat while he fights Islamic militants and works to revive the ailing economy.