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Egypt's new leader seen as dutiful, pragmatic

Published: Monday, June 25 2012 12:44 a.m. MDT

FILE - In this Sunday, June 3, 2012, file photo, Muslim Brotherhood presidential candidate Mohammed Morsi confers with an aide during a meeting with relatives, unseen, of those killed and injured during last year's revolution that forced former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak from power, in Cairo, Egypt.  The victor in the freest election in Egypt?s history, the bespectacled, bearded Mohammed Morsi will have a chance to prove his mettle by standing up to the ruling generals who in recent days have stripped the presidency of real power.  (AP Photo/Ahmed Gomaa, File) (Associated Press) FILE - In this Sunday, June 3, 2012, file photo, Muslim Brotherhood presidential candidate Mohammed Morsi confers with an aide during a meeting with relatives, unseen, of those killed and injured during last year's revolution that forced former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak from power, in Cairo, Egypt. The victor in the freest election in Egypt?s history, the bespectacled, bearded Mohammed Morsi will have a chance to prove his mettle by standing up to the ruling generals who in recent days have stripped the presidency of real power. (AP Photo/Ahmed Gomaa, File) (Associated Press)

CAIRO — He spent time in jail during the Hosni Mubarak regime, but not as long as some fellow Islamists. He is well-educated, having studied at the University of Southern California, yet still betrays his rural roots. He rose through the ranks of the once-banned Muslim Brotherhood as a lackluster but loyal foot soldier.

Now, Mohammed Morsi has made history in breathtaking fashion, becoming the first Islamist to rise to the presidency of the most populous Arab nation.

Aiming to defuse anxieties among large numbers of Egyptians who fear an Islamic agenda, Morsi said, "I am a president for all Egyptians."

Morsi also borrowed phrases used by Abu Bakr, the first Muslim ruler after the 7th century death of the Prophet Muhammad, saying, "If I don't obey God in serving you, you have no commitment to obey me."

Mohammed Morsi (Associated Press) Mohammed Morsi (Associated Press)

Sunday's announcement by the country's electoral commission capped a political standoff that tested the nerves of not just Egyptians but many around the world.

The U.S.-trained engineer who rode some improbable twists and turns in Egypt's 16-month transition to democracy is an enigma: Despite his education, he sometimes struggles to communicate in public and can be off-putting to some secular elites.

The bespectacled and bearded Morsi squeaked to victory in the freest election in Egypt's history, and now the 60-year-old university professor must prove his mettle by standing up to the ruling generals who in recent days have stripped the presidency of real power.

Obama congratulates

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Sunday called Egypt's president-elect, Mohammed Morsi, to congratulate him on his victory and offer continued U.S. support for Egypt's transition to democracy.

In this image taken from Egypt State TV, newly-elect President Mohammed Morsi delivers a speech in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, June 24, 2012. Morsi has called for unity and said he carries In this image taken from Egypt State TV, newly-elect President Mohammed Morsi delivers a speech in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, June 24, 2012. Morsi has called for unity and said he carries "a message of peace" to the world. In his first televised speech on state TV, Morsi pledged Sunday to preserve Egypt's international accords, a reference to the peace deal with Israel. (AP Photo/Egypt State TV) MANDATORY CREDIT (Associated Press)

"Morsi expressed appreciation for Obama's call and welcomed U.S. support for Egypt's transition," the White House said in a press release.

In the turbulent aftermath of longtime leader Hosni Mubarak's ouster in February 2011, the U.S. is eager to salvage an alliance with Egypt.

— Associated Press

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