AMMAN — As Mohamed Morsi was sworn in as the first democratically elected Egyptian president on Saturday, the proceedings were watched with apprehension in Amman, where observers say decision makers are suddenly facing a revaluation of their often tenuous ties with the Islamist movement.
Within hours of Morsi’s confirmed victory last week, Jordan extended the standard diplomatic well-wishes, congratulating the Muslim Brotherhood leader on his victory and expressing hope for a bright future for the Egyptian people.
“We welcome the Egyptian people’s democratic choice and we look forward to working closely with President Morsi,” Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communications and Government Spokesperson Samih Maaytah told The Jordan Times.
Yet behind the diplomatic formalities and cordial overtures, observers say decision makers in Amman are “scrambling” to adjust to a new political reality that requires a change in both domestic and foreign policies.
“The elected institutions will return to fulfilling their roles. And the great military will devote itself to the task of protecting the country,” he said.
He then set out some of his international and domestic objectives, saying he would be a “servant of the people” in a “democratic, modern and constitutional state”.
Internationally, he said Egypt would back the Palestinians and called for an end to the bloodshed in Syria.
“I announce from here that Egypt, its people and presidential institution stand with the Palestinian people until they regain all their rights,” he said.
“We support the Syrian people. We want the bloodshed to stop,” he added.
He repeated that Egypt would respect its international treaties, in an allusion to its 1979 peace accord with Israel.
Morsi had spoken out forcefully in support of Palestinians during his campaign.
The Brotherhood is vehemently opposed to Syrian President Bashar Assad and supports the uprising against him.
But as president, Morsi is not expected to radically change his country’s foreign policy, especially towards Israel, in which the military is expected to exercise its clout.
In a Friday speech before tens of thousands of supporters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the epicentre of the revolt that ousted Mubarak, he said that he would insist on retaining all the presidency’s powers.
“I renounce none of the prerogatives of president,” he told his supporters, adding: “You are the source of power and legitimacy.”
“There is no place for anyone or any institution... above this will.”
SCAF assumed legislative powers after disbanding parliament and also formed a powerful national security council headed by the president but dominated by the generals.
The military also reserves the right to appoint a new constituent assembly should the one elected by parliament be disbanded by a court decision expected on September 1.
The Muslim Brotherhood insists that only parliament can appoint the assembly.
Media reports said Morsi was consulting a cross-section of Egyptian society before appointing a premier and a Cabinet made up mostly of technocrats.
In a meeting with newspaper editors reported by most dailies on Friday, he pledged there would be “no Islamisation of state institutions” during his presidency.
Morsi became the Brotherhood’s candidate to succeed Mubarak only after its first choice, Khayrat Al Shater, was disqualified. He beat Ahmed Shafiq, Mubarak’s last premier, with 51.73 per cent of the vote.
Many had written him off as an uncharismatic substitute, saying he would be unable to muster widespread support.
But the powerful Brotherhood mobilised its formidable resources and supporters behind Morsi, who was appointed last year to head its political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party.