Interim leader Adly Mansour has expressed optimism about Egypt's future during an interview on private satellite channel CBC.
Egypt has come a long way since July: Interim leader
Tuesday ,18 March 2014
Speaking to Lamis El-Hadidi, Mansour said Egypt had progressed since the beginning of the transitional phase, but he acknowledged there were challenges ahead.
“Egypt today is not the Egypt I first received. At the beginning of transitional phase, we only had hopes and ideas and we did not know if we could realise them.”
The ratification of the constitution in January was a key milestone in the transition to democracy, he added.
Presidential Election Law
Article 7 of the new election law, issued by Mansour last week, states candidates cannot appeal against the election results.
Critics have accused the new law of contravening Article 97 of the constitution, which makes administrative orders liable to judicial appeal.
The decision to include the article was suggested by the High Constitution Court, Mansour said. It agreed that appeals could delay the electoral process and cast doubts on the new president's legitimacy, thus impacting national security.
“I’ve been working in the judiciary for 45 years, so I ask my supporters and opponents to trust me on this.”
Mansour, who was appointed head of the constitutional court in July 2013, said his initial view was to allow appeals against the Presidential Election Committee’s (PEC) decisions.
However, after holding extensive talks he concluded that if appeals were allowed it could take the electoral process over six months to complete.
“Does this look like a nation that could wait for another six months?”
According to Mansour, most political figures who opposed the law eventually came to support it.
Presidential hopeful Hamdeen Sabbahi is one of those who still oppose to the law.
Speculations over El-Sisi
Regarding the expected candidacy of Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, Mansour said he had no clue if the defence minister would stand for president.
“I don’t know if El-Sisi is running or not, there are indications but until now there hasn't been a decision. For the time being the only potential candidate is Sabbahi.”
The election will be highly competitive, he predicted.
Mansour went on to refute claims that El-Sisi, whose popularity soared following Morsi's ouster, is the main power in the government.
“El-Sisi only works in his field, which is the armed forces. Any cabinet member will tell you he’s always the last one to speak,” he said, adding that El-Sisi had never attempted to influence him since he had been president.
It is up to Egyptians to choose their leader, Mansour declared.
“No one should interfere in our internal affairs. Wether El-Sisi runs or not is an Egyptian issue. I can't base Egypt’s decision on what the West wants.”
The PEC is expected to announce the candidate registration schedule within days.
“By June or earlier we should have a new president.”
Regarding parliamentary elections, which Mansour said should take place before 17 July, the interim leader said he had left the matter for the cabinet, which will draft the law regulating the process.
During talks political figures may have favoured a mixed electoral system, he noted.
Terrorism: the greatest obstacle
Terrorism remains the biggest challenge facing Egypt, Mansour said. But he expressed confidence it can be defeated.
“But the state isn’t enough on its own; we need the people help fight terrorism by reporting suspicious activity.”
Mansour praised the state's efforts to fight terrorism, which has grown since Morsi's ouster. But he admitted there may have been failures by the police and that some recent attacks could have been avoided.
Such failures are dealt with within the police force, he added.
“My target is not to defame anyone.”
Return of the Police State?
Mansour acknowledged that security on its own is not the solution to Egypt’s political problems.
“People are saying political restrictions will return to pre-January 25 revolution levels – this will not happen.”
There are cases of police violations and excessive use of force and these are punished, but the practice is not systematic, he claimed.
Regarding young detainees, especially students, Mansour said whoever is found innocent will be released, adding that many had already been released since the public prosecutor conducted a review into detained students in January.
The State and the Muslim Brotherhood
The state does not intend to hold talks with Muslim Brotherhood members who are involved in "terrorist acts," Mansour said.
“Who should I talk to? Those who have practiced terrorism? If I did so the people would turn against me.
“[But] whoever denounces violence and abandons the path of the Brotherhood is welcome to [return to] political life: they are Egyptians.”
Egypt's interim authorities declared the Brotherhood a terrorist group in December, a decision that was upheld by a court in February.
Mansour said the presidency has never negotiated with the Muslim Brotherhood. It has also turned down mediation proposals from foreign entities because it refuses international interference in the issue.
Egypt and the Arab world
Mansour expressed his gratitude to Arab states that have supported Egypt since Morsi’s ouster, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
Regarding the decision of the UAE, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia to remove their envoys from Qatar, Mansour said it must have been influenced by serious information.
No Morsi or Mubarak
At the end of the interview, Mansour vowed to continue opposing violations against citizens and stressed there would never be a return to the regimes of Mubarak or Morsi.
He called on young people to engage in political life and acknowledged their role in “fueling the January 25 and 30 June revolutions.”
He also called on people to lower their expectations “due to a limit in potential and an increase in problems.” But he promised that improvements would be witnessed soon.
“We should also reconsider our hope for a president who will rescue us,” he added.