President Mohamed Morsi used his first interview with Egypt's national television broadcaster on Saturday evening to highlight corruption and the poor use of resources as the biggest challenges facing the country.
“I felt the burden of great responsibility when I was elected. The Egyptian people rose up and voted for the president they wanted. Every Egyptian household had members participating in the revolution and any one of them could have become a martyr,” Morsi said.
President Morsi said he was optimistic that issues involving “security, employment, tourism, industry, and agriculture” could be solved, but they would take time.
Moreover, he emphasised his vision to build a democratic, modern, constitutional state in which the law is respected, there is complete freedom and the people are the main source of power.
In response to a question about the rise of political Islam, President Morsi said plurality was important in politics and that no political current should feel intimidated by another.
“Egypt requires plurality, and the ballot box will be the determining factor guaranteeing freedom of speech,” he added.
Morsi said corruption and the poor use of resources were the main problems facing the country. Channelling resources in the right direction and encouraging investment would lead Egypt out of its transition period, he asserted.
Corruption had “started from the top” during the Mubarak era, Morsi added, referring to former high-ranking government officials currently on trial for abusing their positions, whilst “the base” was left uncorrupted.
“I will only use the law to fight corruption, not exceptional measures,” he insisted, because to do otherwise would only lead to more corruption.
“Development, investment and production will end corruption,” he added.
On education, Morsi said more investment was needed as well as supervision to guarantee that the relevant laws are implemented.
Morsi said he understood protests to demand better living conditions but rejected strikes because they discouraged investment.
Regarding his decision on 18 August to retire members of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), Mohamed Hussein Tantawi and Sami Anan, Morsi said he was "responding to the people's expectations," and that the move was not meant to alienate the armed forces.
“The armed forces took responsibility for managing the transition period and play a great role in defending the country’s borders and maintaining its internal security,” he added.
In one swoop, Morsi also took on full executive and legislative authority, as well as the power to set all public policies in Egypt and sign international treaties.
“I will not be using legislative authority except in very specific cases,” he asserted, explaining that he was awaiting the election of a new parliament.
Morsi attempted to reinstate parliament, which had been dissolved by a court order on 14 June due to its "unconstitutionality," but another court decision struck down the move.
Parliamentary elections are expected to take place two months after the new constitution is passed by a national referendum.
Regarding foreign relations, President Morsi said he was open to cooperation with all countries and would base relationships on "mutual respect."
“Foreign relations should be guided by the country’s interests. No country should interfere in our affairs and we should not interfere in other countries' affairs... Mutual respect is what I seek with all countries,” he said.
He also explained he had taken the initiative to cooperate with Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia to solve the Syria crisis, which was “the biggest problem facing the region.”
Finally, Morsi expressed his wish that Egypt would eventually be self-sufficient in food, medicine and arms, adding that the “arms would not be used to attack anyone but only for self defence."