Former army chief sworn in as president of Egypt

Egypt’s former army chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi was sworn in yesterday as president for a four-year term, assuming the highest office of a deeply polarised nation that has been roiled by deadly unrest and an economic crisis since its 2011 uprising.

Former army chief sworn in as president of Egypt

El-Sissi’s inauguration came less than a year after the 59-year-old career infantry officer ousted the country’s first freely elected president, the Islamist Mohammed Morsi.

El-Sissi 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 Morsi, now on trial for charges that carry the death penalty, was sworn in two years ago.

The building, designed to look like an ancient Egyptian temple, is a short distance from a military hospital where ousted president Hosni Mubarak is held.

Mubarak was convicted last month of graft and sentenced to three years in prison. He is also being retried for failing to stop the killing of hundreds of protesters during the 18-day revolt.

Yesterday was declared a national holiday for el-Sissi’s inauguration and police and troops were deployed throughout Cairo. The sombre ceremony was held in a red carpeted hall adorned by red, white and black Egyptian flags and attended by the entire Cabinet as well as el-Sissi’s wife and children.

Outside the building around a hundred el-Sissi supporters waved Egyptian flags and posters of the country’s new president. Army pickup trucks fitted with machine-guns were parked nearby and helicopters hovered overhead.

El-Sissi is Egypt’s eighth president since the overthrow of the monarchy in 1953, the year after a military coup. With the exception of Morsi and two civilians who served in an interim capacity, all of Egypt’s presidents have hailed from the armed forces.

After being sworn in, the president welcomed dozens of local and foreign dignitaries, including the kings of Jordan and Bahrain, the emir of Kuwait and the crown princes of Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi.

The five Arab nations backed el-Sissi’s ouster of Morsi, and Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the Emirates have since provided billions of dollars to shore up Egypt’s ailing finances.

El-Sissi won a landslide victory in presidential elections held last month, receiving nearly 97% of the vote, with a turnout of 47.45%.

He advocates heavy government involvement in the economy, with state-sponsored mega-projects to create jobs and the government setting prices for some goods. He has also spoken of reshaping Egypt by expanding Nile provinces into the desert and development outside the densely populated river valley.

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