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Egypt's Morsi starts work as court curbs army arrest powers

CAIRO--Egypt's president-elect Mohamed Morsi pushed ahead on Wednesday with selecting a government, after a court delivered a blow to the ruling military by suspending its powers to arrest civilians.

Egypt's first civilian president, and its first elected leader since an uprising ousted president Hosni Mubarak early last year, still has to contend with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.

The SCAF, which took control after Mubarak resigned in February 2011, will retain broad powers even after it formally transfers control to Morsi at the end of June.

The president-elect has met Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, the head of SCAF and the man to whom Mubarak handed power.

Before appointing a prime minister for the post-Mubarak Egypt, media reports said, Morsi has been holding consultations with a cross-section of Egyptian society.

He met with a delegation from Al-Azhar, the highest authority in Sunni Islam, as well as from the Coptic Christian church, whose members have voiced concern over the election of an Islamist president.

Newspapers said the president-elect had held talks with families of “martyrs” killed in last year's uprising to discuss their demands for renewed trials of those responsible.

On the political front, the new president also has to contend with the fact that the country's top court earlier this month ordered the Islamist-dominated parliament to be disbanded.

The military subsequently assumed legislative powers and also formed a powerful national security council that is headed by the president but dominated by generals.

The military also reserves the right to appoint a new constituent assembly should the one elected by parliament be disbanded by a court decision expected on Sept. 1.

But the Muslim Brotherhood has insisted that only parliament can appoint the assembly.

Morsi was the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood, but he resigned from the movement in order to take the top job, pledging to represent all Egyptians.

“All these details are on the table for discussion,” said a senior aide to the president-elect on Tuesday, of the military's powers. “Nothing has been settled yet, and no decision has been taken.”

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