CAIRO (AP) — The Muslim Brotherhood's candidate for the Egyptian presidential runoff promised Tuesday he would break sharply with the ways of ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak, a day after angry protesters burned down the headquarters of his challenger who served as prime minister in the old regime.
Islamist Mohammed Morsi appeared to be trying to cash in on public resentment of his rival Ahmed Shafiq's ties to Mubarak at a news conference where he offered something for everyone, from the military to the revolutionaries, women and minority Christians. Morsi has been scrambling to broaden his base of support ahead of the June 16-17 runoff.
"When I am president, the presidency will not be reduced to one person," he said. "The age of superman has failed and gone. The world is no longer like that. I am not like that."
Morsi's comments came hours after some 400 protesters chanting slogans against Shafiq stormed and vandalized his Cairo campaign headquarters. The protesters set the building ablaze after making away with computers, television sets and air conditioners.
Shafiq was the last prime minister appointed by Mubarak before he stepped down in February 2011 in the face of a popular uprising against his autocratic rule. The attack on Shafiq's headquarters was reminiscent of some of the most dramatic scenes of the uprising when protesters burned down the ruling party headquarters.
In Cairo's Tahrir square, birthplace of the uprising, protesters chanted slogans against both Morsi and Shafiq. Similar protests took place in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria and elsewhere in northern Egypt.
Morsi claimed the top spot in the first round of landmark elections last week, putting him in the runoff against Shafiq who, like his longtime friend and mentor Mubarak, is a former air force commander.
The attack on Shafiq's headquarters underlined the depth of resentment felt by many toward Shafiq, viewed by critics as an extension of the Mubarak regime. And Morsi moved quickly to use it for political gain, making a host of generous promises he said he would keep if elected.
He also used his televised news conference to fend off against charges that the group was seeking to garner more power after winning just under half of all seats in parliament and reversing an earlier decision not to field a presidential candidate.
He promised to place Christians in top government jobs and said he would not impose an Islamic dress code in public for women.
"Our Christian brothers, they are partners in the nation. They will have full rights that are equal to those enjoyed by Muslims," Morsi said. "They will be represented as advisers in the presidential institution, and maybe a vice president if possible."
Women, he said, will have full rights in jobs and education.
"Women have a right to freely choose the attire that suits them," he said.
But his overtures may be a hard sell for some