Egypt President-elect Mohamed Mursi hails Tahrir crowds

media captionMohamed Mursi: ''You (the Egyptian people) are the supreme authority and source of legitimacy''

Egyptian President-elect Mohamed Mursi has praised crowds in Cairo's Tahrir Square, the focal point of protests that overthrew President Hosni Mubarak.

Thousands had gathered to protest against decrees issued by Egypt's military rulers.

Mr Mursi swore a symbolic oath before the crowd, telling them they were "the source of all authority".

Mr Mursi, Egypt's first freely-elected civilian president, will officially be sworn in on Saturday.

He promised to be a "president for all Egyptians", adding: "The revolution must continue until all its objectives are met."

He added: "I promise you that I will not give up on any of the powers given to the president" - a veiled reference to recent decrees by the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (Scaf).


He also pledged to work for the release of civilians detained by the military, and to seek justice for those killed and injured in last year's uprising.

He also said he would work to free militant Islamist Omar Abdel-Rahman, imprisoned in the US over the bombing of the World Trade Center in New York in 1993.

image captionBefore going to Tahrir Square Mr Mursi performed Friday prayers at Cairo's al-Azhar mosque

At one point Mr Mursi opened his jacket to show the crowd he was not wearing a bulletproof vest, saying: "I am reassured, thanks be to God and to you. I fear nobody but God."

Mr Mursi also promised to take steps to develop Egypt's struggling economy and to conduct foreign affairs with "dignity".

Mr Mursi is due to be sworn in on Saturday at 11:00 local time (09:00 GMT) before the country's Supreme Constitutional Court.

Spokesmen for the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, to which Mr Mursi belongs, had previously said he would take his oath before parliament, which was dissolved by the Scaf last week.

The assembly, elected last November, was dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood-backed Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) and other Islamists.

The Scaf also issued a declaration giving itself sweeping legislative powers and control over defence policy, and announcing the appointment of a panel to write a new constitution.

Another controversial decision by the Scaf to give military police powers of arrest was suspended by a court earlier this week.

Strained relations

Handling relations with the Scaf is likely to be a key test for Mr Mursi as he begins his term of office.

Protesters gathered in Tahrir Square on Thursday chanted slogans against the military and in support of Mr Mursi.

"I'm here to tell the military council that we, the people, elected parliament so it is only us, the people, who can dissolve it," Intissar al-Sakka, a protestor from the FJP, told the Reuters news agency.

The Scaf had previously said it would hand over power to Mr Mursi by the end of the month.

However, Scaf member Major-General Mohamed al-Assar told Egyptian media earlier this week that the head of Scaf, Field-Marshal Hussein Tantawi, would remain as defence minister under Mr Mursi.

Earlier, Mr Mursi performed Friday prayers at Cairo's al-Azhar mosque, one of the most prominent seats of learning in Sunni Islam.

He has sought to allay fears among some secular and Coptic Christian Egyptians that he will use his presidency to impose Islamic law.

Mr Mursi's campaign has said he plans to appoint a woman and a Coptic Christian as his vice-presidents.