Former army chief Abdel Fattah al Sisi was sworn in as president of Egypt in a ceremony with low-key attendance by Western allies.

The allies are concerned by a crackdown on dissent since Mr Sisi ousted Islamist leader Mohamed Mursi last year.

Last month's election, which officials said Mr Sisi won with 97 per cent of the vote, followed three years of upheaval since an uprising ended 30 years of rule by former air force commander Hosni Mubarak.

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Security in Cairo was tight, yesterday with armoured personnel carriers and tanks positioned in strategic locations as Mr Sisi spoke to foreign dignitaries after a 21-gun salute at Cairo's main presidential palace. He called for hard work and the development of freedom "in a responsible framework away from chaos" but did not mention human rights or democracy.

"The time has come to build a more stable future," said Mr Sisi, the sixth Egyptian leader with a military background. "Let us work to establish the values of rightness and peace."

Near Tahrir Square, the symbolic heart of the revolt against Mr Mubarak where protesters now rarely tread, young men sold T-shirts with the image of Mr Sisi in his trademark dark sunglasses.

Commentators on state and private media heaped praise on him, turning a blind eye to what human-rights groups say are widespread abuses, in the hope he can deliver stability and rescue the economy.

Many Egyptians share the hope, but they have limited patience, staging street protests that toppled two leaders in the past three years, and the election turnout of just 47 per cent shows Mr Sisi is not as popular as when he toppled Mr Mursi.

"Sisi has to do something in his first 100 days. People will watch closely and there might be another revolution. That's what people are like in this country," said theology student Israa Youssef, 21.

Western countries, who hoped the overthrow of Mr Mubarak in 2011 would usher in a new era of democracy, have watched Egypt's political transition stumble.

Mr Mursi was the country's first freely elected president, but his year in power was tarnished by accusations that he usurped power, imposed the Muslim Brotherhood's views on Islam and mismanaged the economy, allegations he denied.

After Mr Sisi deposed him and became Egypt's de facto ruler, security forces mounted one of the toughest crackdowns on the Brotherhood in its 86-year history. Hundreds were killed in street protests and thousands of others jailed. Secular activists were eventually thrown into jail too, even those who supported Mr Mursi's fall, because they violated a new law that severely restricts protests.

Mr Mursi's successor was applauded by Egypt's Gulf Arab allies, who were alarmed by the rise of the Brotherhood, the international standard-bearer of mainstream Sunni political Islam. The movement, which won nearly every election in Egypt since Mr Mubarak's fall, is seen as a threat to Gulf dynasties.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait extended a £7 billion lifeline in cash and petroleum products to help Egypt stave off collapse after Mr Sisi appeared on television and announced the Brotherhood was finished.

The military is unlikely to turn against Mr Sisi unless mass street protests erupt.