Egypt’s Mursi hails new constitution, calls for national unity

Cairo: Egypt's Islamist President Mohamed Mursi on Wednesday congratulated his countrymen for endorsing a new constitution in a referendum that was "totally transparent" and called on the opposition to join him in a national dialogue to resolve lingering tensions.

Mursi, in his first address to the nation since the adoption of the new constitution, called on Egyptians to work for stability and security of the country and accepted that there were many people who were opposed to the constitution.

"I renew the invitation to all parties and political powers to join the sessions of national dialogue," he said. He welcomed those who had said "no" as well as those who had said "yes", saying that Egypt would not return to a time "when there was only one opinion".

Mursi said the passing of the constitution meant Egypt could now move to a new stage that should bring security and stability for the people. The constitution had been chosen by the people "with their own free will" in a referendum that was "totally transparent and supervised by the judiciary and monitored by NGOs", Mursi said.

Mursi also admitted mistakes had been made but insisted he would never make a decision except in the interests of the country. Without naming the main opposition National Salvation Front, which claims the new charter compromises the country's secular character and is too Islamist, Mursi said "difference in opinion is a healthy sign".

Earlier in the day, Egypt adopted the constitution after a two-thirds 'yes' vote in a polarising referendum. Some 63 per cent backed the constitution in the referendum. Mursi last night signed into law Egypt's post revolution constitution after the election authorities declared it overwhelmingly approved in a two-stage referendum that was held on December 15 and 22. .

In his speech, Mursi described the referendum as an achievement of the people. The Egyptian president said despite everything he is "not a pursuer of power or a seeker of authority". "Authority is in the hands of the Egyptian people," he said.

"All I wish for is the renaissance of the country and to take it to a new era of productivity and work," Mursi said.

"I will always be as I promised the people. I do not search for rights but exert all I can to find the means to achieve what is best for the country. I will exert all my effort to push forward the Egyptian economy which faces serious challenges but holds great potential," he said.

"We all lived days and weeks of speculation and anxiety. I was keen during this time to take the country to the shore of security and end the transitional period which has already cost the economy and security a lot," he said.

In his speech, Musri described the previous phase as one of "labour to produce the new dawn of Egypt" and now "the new day of Egypt is to come". "I consulted the current prime minister, Hesham Qandil, for the necessary cabinet reshuffle to face all problems until new parliament is elected. I feel for the people and feel what they suffer I will not allow them to suffer more. I will work with the government and all state bodies to present the best the subsidy can offer for the people," the president said.

The president promised there will be new projects of services and production as well as facilitations for the investors in the coming period. He also thanked the High Elections Commission (HEC), judges, the armed forces and police. "By adopting the new constitution, Egypt can move towards a new stage that will boost security and stability in the country," Morsi said.