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Islamist Mohammed Morsi sworn in as Egypt president

Mohammed Morsi officially became the president of Egypt on Saturday, as a new era of government takes shape. NBC's Kate Snow reports.

Egypt's first Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi, took his oath of office on Saturday, ending six decades of rule by former military men although the generals in charge since Hosni Mubarak was ousted last year have already curbed his powers. 

Morsi was sworn in before the Supreme Constitutional Court, rather than parliament as is usual. The Islamist-led lower house was dissolved by the same court shortly before this month's run-off presidential election.  


"I swear by Almighty God that I will sincerely protect the republican system and that I respect the constitution and the rule of law," Morsi said, after making the same declaration a day earlier in front of tens of thousands of people in Tahrir Square.

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"I will look after the interests of the people and protect the independence of the nation and safety of its territory," he said before the head of the constitutional court Farouk Soltan and other judges. 

'The will of the people'
He was speaking in the court building next to the Cairo hospital where the jailed former president has been moved. 

Morsi said a civilian and constitutional state had been "born today," in his comments after swearing the oath. The ceremony was broadcast by state media. 

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One of the judges, Maher Sami, began the ceremony by saying that event had "no parallel in all of Egypt's history and was created by the will of the people." 

In his inaugural address to the nation, Morsi began by paying tribute to the martyrs of the revolution and vowed to honor their sacrifices through his work and the administration's work.

He reiterated points he has made repeatedly before about working to strengthen Egypt's economy and restarting investment and trade. 

Israel treaty safe
He also said Egypt would abide by all of its international treaties and obligations -- meaning the 33-year-old peace treaty with Israel -- and promised to work to make Egypt a modern civil state that upholds laws and abides by the constitution.

"We carry a message of peace to the world," Morsi said in a segment intended to reassure the world that his tenure posed no threat to regional order.

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He struck a rather defiant tone by saying on more than one occasion that the Egyptian people had democratically elected a parliament and that the will of the people must be respected.

He promised the state would be made up of democratic institutions and that the military would return to its bases and its role of defending the country. He promised to strengthen and develop the Armed Forces and to keep Egypt's judiciary independent.

On foreign policy, Morsi said he we would stand with the Palestinian people until they achieved their legitimate rights and sovereignty over their land. He added that he would work to help Palestinian national reconciliation.

Huge crowds are expected to gather to see Egypt's new president Mohammed Morsi take an oath of office on Saturday. NBC's Brian Williams reports.

Morsi said Egypt stood with the people of Syria and that the bloodshed must end. In a nod to Arab monarchies, he promised Egypt would not attempt to export its revolution to other countries and that Egypt would not accept other countries interfering in its domestic affairs. 

On Friday, Morsi defied the ruling generals by reading a symbolic oath of office in Tahrir Square, where Egypt's revolution was born. 

"Everybody is hearing me now. The government ... the military and the police. ... No power above this power," he told the tens of thousands of mostly Islamist supporters packing the square. "I reaffirm to you I will not give up any of the president's authorities. I can't afford to do this. I don't have that right." 

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At one point, Morsi opened his jacket to show the crowd he was not wearing a bulletproof vest, then declared he "fears no one but God." 

"We love you Morsi!" the crowd roared in response as the 60-year-old U.S.-trained engineer left the podium to get closer to the cheering crowd. 

AFP - Getty Images

An image grab taken from Egypt's Nile TV shows Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi taking the oath of office during a swearing-in ceremony at the Constitutional Court in Cairo Saturday.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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