Islamist Mohammed Morsi was sworn in Saturday before Egypt's highest court as the country's first freely elected president, succeeding Hosni Mubarak who was ousted 16 months ago.

Morsi promised a "new Egypt" as he was inaugurated as the Arab world's first freely elected Islamist president, became Egypt's fifth head of state since the overthrow of the monarchy some 60 years ago.

He took the oath before Supreme Constitutional Court in its Nile-side seat built to resemble an ancient Egyptian temple.

"We aspire to a better tomorrow, a new Egypt and a second republic," Morsi told the judges of the court after taking the oath in a solemn ceremony shown live on state television.

"Today, the Egyptian people laid the foundation of a new life - absolute freedom, a genuine democracy and stability," said Morsi, a 60-year-old U.S.-trained engineer.

Morsi took a symbolic oath of office on Friday in Tahrir Square, birthplace of the uprising that ended Mubarak's authoritarian rule last year, and vowed to reclaim presidential powers stripped from his office by the military council that took over from the ousted leader.

But by agreeing to take the oath before the court, rather than before parliament as is customary, he is bowing to the military's will in an indication that the contest for power will continue.

On Sunday, Egypt's state election committee declared Morsi the winner of a runoff presidential election with 51.7 percent, defeating former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq.