Egypt's President Morsi Hails Constitution And Urges Dialogue

by
staff
President Mohammed Morsi has congratulated Egyptians for endorsing a new constitution and urged all parties to join him in a national dialogue.

Egypt's President Mursi participates in a meeting with U.S. Defense Secretary Panetta at the presidential palace in Cairo

President Mohammed Morsi has congratulated Egyptians for endorsing a new constitution and urged all parties to join him in a national dialogue.

In a TV address to the nation, Mr Morsi said the economy was a priority and that changes to the cabinet would be made if necessary.

Some 63% backed the constitution in the controversial referendum.

But opponents say the document is too Islamist and betrays the revolution that overthrew Hosni Mubarak.

Economic priorities

In his first address to the nation since he signed the new constitution into law, Mr Morsi said that this was a historic day.

Egypt, he said, had a free constitution that had not been imposed by an occupier, a king or a president.

Mr Morsi said the passing of the constitution meant Egypt could now move to a new stage that should bring security and stability for the people.

He said the economy was the priority - and he was planning a package of incentives for investors.

"I will deploy all my efforts to boost the Egyptian economy, which faces enormous challenges but has also big opportunities for growth, and I will make all the changes necessary for this task," he said.

On Wednesday, the Egyptian pound hit an eight-year low against the dollar, amid fears the government will not be able to implement much-needed tax rises and spending cuts.

Credit agency Standard & Poor's cut Egypt's long-term rating to "B-" on Monday amid the uncertainty.

Mr Morsi said he accepted there were many people who were opposed to the constitution.

But he said he welcomed those who had said "no" as well as those who had said "yes", and that Egypt would not return to a time "when there was only one opinion".

However, he condemned those who had resorted to violence.

Mr Morsi said a national dialogue was now a necessity for the challenges ahead and he called on all political parties to participate.

He admitted mistakes had been made but insisted he would never make a decision except in the interests of the country.

Turnout in the referendum was 32.9% of Egypt's 52 million voters.

The result was announced on Tuesday and parliamentary elections must now take place within two months.

Opponents of the constitution accuse the president, who belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood, of pushing through a text that favours Islamists and does not sufficiently protect the rights of women or Christians.

The BBC's Bethany Bell, in Cairo, says the opposition has insisted it will continue to fight against the charter in the election campaign and in parliament, and that Egypt's political crisis is far from over.