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Sabahi vows to maintain Brotherhood ban

In an extensive television interview, Hamdeen Sabahi promises to continue the ban on the Muslim Brotherhood if he is elected president, but says peaceful Islamists will not be 'hunted down'

Zeinab El-Gundy, Wednesday 7 May 2014
Nasserist Hamdeen Sabahi
Presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi (Photo: Reuters)
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Hamdeen Sabahi has vowed to maintain the ban on the Muslim Brotherhood if he is elected president.

In an interview on Al-Nahar channel on Tuesday, Sabahi said: “The Muslim Brotherhood will not exist as an organisation whose loyalty is to foreign entities, or as a political party. This is in accordance with the 2014 constitution which bans parties based on religion.”

“Nevertheless Islamic trends will not be prosecuted or hunted down as long as they are peaceful.”

When asked about the role of the military, Sabahi said: “There will be no political role for the army under my presidency. The army will protect the country but will not rule."

The efficiency of the army and the diversity of its weapons sources will be increased, he added.

For nearly four hours Sabahi and his campaign team discussed his presidential programme on Amr El-Khaky's 'A Meeting with the President'.

Sabahi pledged to reduce the president’s salary and to build a strong democratic state, unlike the current “the weak and corrupted old state.”

“The old regime is still ruling the country -- this is why I am running for president. I want to secure the revolution’s goals of social justice, freedom and democracy.”

He accused the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) -- which ruled for eighteen months after the January 2011 uprising -- and the current interim government of failing to achieve the revolution’s goals.

“The alliance built for the 30 June [protests against Mohamed Morsi] has already collapsed because some forces are trying to destroy the January 25 revolution.”

He noted that many youth groups had boycotted the constitution referendum because of policies adopted by the interim government.

Sabahi said he would appoint three vice presidents and would decentralise power from Cairo to the governorates and local councils.

“I am going to appoint three vice presidents: one for transitional justice, one for development and one for national security.”

Moreover, the interior ministry will be reformed to ensure that security is protected while maintaining respect for human rights.

He said he would prefer his cabinet members to come from various parties, but added that he respected the constitution which states the majority party should form the cabinet.

Parliamentary elections will be held after the presidential poll.

When asked about his anti-terrorism policies, Sabahi said: “There is no terrorism in democratic countries, maybe there are terrorist attacks but there is no organised terrorism."

He added: “Besides the security solution, which is based on the law, to fight terrorism you should have social justice.”

There would be no mass punishments under his presidency, he vowed.

Concerning relations with the Gulf, especially Qatar, Sabahi, who is an advocate of Pan-Arabism, said he wanted Qatar to return to the “Arab World” instead of being alienated and backing the Muslim Brotherhood.

Egypt-Qatar relations have been under strain since Morsi's ouster. Ambassadors have been recalled and there has been a media war of the words in both countries. Egyptian politicians accuse Qatar of supporting the Brotherhood and trying to destabilise Egypt through its Al Jazeera news network.

“The Gulf countries are fighting their war against the Brotherhood in Egypt instead of on their own land,” Sabahi said.

Regarding the controversial Ethiopian dam project, he said he would call for a summit meeting of Nile basin countries. He said he would form an organisation for cooperation in the fields of development, electricity and water projects, while at the same time persevering Egypt’s historic rights to water from the Nile.

When discussing Egypt's relationship with the US, Sabahi said: “I will maintain relations with the US but I will not accept economic aid as we do not need it, we've got other sources.”

However, “military aid will be accepted because it has other benefits. The US benefits from the military aid because Egypt purchases weapons from US firms.”

The long-time anti-Zionist, who for decades publically opposed the Camp David treaty, said Egypt respected all its treaties and agreements, including the treaty with Israel.

“Egypt respects all its treaties and agreements. If there are any amendments to the Camp David treaty, they will be in accordance with international law in order to restore Egypt's full control over Sinai and to deploy Egyptian armed forces in the region without having to ask anyone's permission."

Under the peace treaty with Israel, the presence of Egyptian armed forces in the Eastern C-Zone of the peninsula is restricted.

The first extensive deployment of Egyptian armed forces into the peninsula since 1967 took place in 2013 following an agreement between Egypt, Israel, the United Nations and the United States regarding the suppression of militant activity in the region.  

 

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