Cairo (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The new Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, leader of the Freedom and Justice party (Muslim Brotherhood), today began consultations to form the new government, after months of political instability. The first head of state elected by the people - he beat the challenger Ahmed Shafiq, who was close to the military and former prime minister under Mubarak's regime, with 51.3% of the vote - he has promised to be the "president of all Egyptians." The oath of office should take place June 30. In his first speech to the nation, issued yesterday shortly after the official announcement of the vote, he said that "without the blood of the martyrs" he would never have been elected and confirmed that "the revolution continues." Morsi directly addressed "the great people of Egypt" called to "reinforce national unity" and he repeatedly stated his intention to represent "all" citizens, including religious minorities, the first of which are Coptic Christians. "As Egyptians, Muslims and Christians, we are preachers and founders of civilization," he added, "and, God willing, we will continue to be so in the future."
Meanwhile, the international community welcomes the new Egyptian president, sending him the customary greetings for the position he prepares to fill. However, beyond the facade formalities and the practice of diplomacy, there emerge differences, fears, hopes and renewed calls for the maintenance of "stability" and peace in the region. From Washington to the Gulf countries, many are waiting to see the first moves of Cairo, the decisions by the head of state as an of expression of the Islamist movement and the power struggle that is playing out behind the scenes between the army and the Muslim Brotherhood.
The U.S. President Barack Obama telephoned to congratulate Morsi, also stressing that Washington "will continue to support Egypt's transition to democracy" and "will be alongside the people" so that the promise is fulfilled that was contained in the revolution begun last year. Obama added his intention to collaborate under the banner of mutual respect, to promote "the many common interests" that bind America and Egypt. The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon congratulated the new president for the election, saying he was confident that the country will work to "realize the aspirations of its people," who request "democracy, human rights, prosperity and stability."
Egypt was the first Arab nation to sign a peace treaty with Israel; the election of a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, which has always opposed the move, casts a shadow over the future of the region even if the leadership has wished to reassure the West on the compliance with the agreements taken. In a note Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he respects the "results" and confirmed his intention to "continue cooperation with the Egyptian government on the basis of the peace agreements." The Prime Minister of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, based in the Gaza Strip, expects Egypt to take up the role of "guide" in the "Palestinian cause" so that the people can "gain their freedom." Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas hopes for Morsi's "success" in his work at the "service" of the Egyptian people and expects full cooperation between Cairo and Ramallah for the welfare of the two peoples united by "blood ties".
The election of Morsi is being watched carefully in the Muslim world, between the Gulf countries and in all areas of the Middle East. Iran welcomes the vote and said that "his victory is part of an 'Islamic Awakening' in the Middle East." Tehran paid tribute to the "martyrs" of the Egyptian revolution and hopes for the "continued success" of its people, stressing its "vibrant presence in the political and social world." Iraq spoke of "a major step forward in the right direction," in regard to "strengthening democracy in Egypt." For Turkey, Morsi's election "reflects the will of the people", but now he will face "major challenges".
The vast majority of reactions emerging from the Gulf countries were marked by caution. The government of the United Arab Emirates respects "the choice of the Egyptian people, in a context of a democratic path." Bahrain hopes to create "an atmosphere of freedom and democracy", while the government of Jordan hopes that the new Egyptian president can bring "stability". From Qatar, along with the customary congratulations, came praise "for the role of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and of the judges" who were able to maintain a "democratic approach" and make the recent elections "a success".
In a whirlwind of congratulations - sincere or merely formal, more or less self-interested - the silence of the government of the main oil producer in the world stood out. So far, no official position has arrived from Saudi Arabia, whose relations with the Muslim Brothers have always been reduced to a minimum. According to experts, Riyadh will be forced to maintain relations with the new Egyptian president, even though the Islamist movement that supports him is unpopular with the Saudi kingdom, accused of betraying the purity of Islam.
Mohammed Morsi, 60, studied engineering in the United States. Because of his membership in the Islamist movement, he spent several years in prison during the early years of the Mubarak government. After the fall of the regime, Morsi collaborated in founding the Justice and Freedom Party, the political expression of the Islamic movement that won the parliamentary elections, recently annulled, with more than 50% of the vote. He replaced in the Egyptian presidential race Kairat al-Shater, the architect of the electoral campaign of the Muslim Brotherhood who was prevented from running because he is an ex-con.