On June 29, the day before Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi took the official oath of office, he sent a message to factions within his own country that the people had given him power and he planned to use it. Of course he did this in such a way so as to cover his references to power in the language of egalitarianism.
For example, he said things like, “I will sincerely protect the republican system and that I respect the constitution and the rule of law.” And he also pledged to “look after the interests of the people and protect the independence of the nation and the safety of its territory.”
Yet as he spoke to the people, it seems certain he wanted the constitutional court and the Egyptian Army to pay attention as well. Thus when he said, “There is no power above people power [and they] give this power to whoever [they] want and…withhold it from whoever [they] want,” he was putting both the court and military on notice. He was assuring them that the people had given him power and he planned to use it.
To understand why he might send this message, one only needs to remember that even as he spoke he was but hours away from entering into a shared legal and political structure in Egypt that may not infrequently find him, the constitutional court, and the Egyptian Army at odds.
This tangled web gets even more tangled when we consider that the constitutional court recently took power away from the Islamist-dominated Egyptian Parliament and that the Egyptian Army is certain it represents the people.
No one ventures a guess on how long Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood will play along before turning this already fragile structure on its head.