"We don’t have very long to go before the door is open for the official registration of presidential candidates — the scheduled date so far is 15 April. But it is still possible that we could have a few weeks advancement in the process of power transition," said Mansour Hassan, head of the Advisory Council to the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).
Speaking to Ahram Online by phone Sunday afternoon while in the midst of consultations on the administration of the next few weeks of the transitional phase that started when president Hosni Mubarak was obliged to stepped down on 11 February 2011, Hassan said that he saw no big difference in practical terms between transitioning from SCAF to an elected president at the end of June, according to the current timeframe, or if this process was pushed forward a few weeks. "The end of June is not that far away, after all," he said.
However, Hassan, a long-time politician who served in key executive posts under late president Anwar El-Sadat and was considered by the late president as a replacement for Hosni Mubarak as vice president days before Sadat was killed by Islamists on 6 October 1981, argued that the good thing about a slight trimming of the process of transition is that it sends a positive message of rapprochement from the ruling SCAF to an angry public that has become predominantly in favour of hastening Egypt's forthcoming presidential elections.
In fact, Hassan told Ahram Online that no matter what is done by the ruling authorities in the coming weeks to fix the "overwhelming state of chaos demonstrated in the appalling security situation" and the "dramatically deteriorating national economy" it is the task of the next president "to attend to the management of this very grave situation."
"During the past year we have done nothing almost for the economy at a time when we know very well that 40 per cent of the Egyptian population (of around 85 million) is living under the poverty line and that around another 40 per cent is hardly above it," Hassan said. He added that if the current "disturbing" economic situation persists, "it should then not come as a surprise if we are faced with a situation whereby 80 per cent of the population is under the poverty line."
This moment, Hassan warned, would be the moment of the "rage of the hungry" and it can only be evaded if the remainder of the transitional phase is conducted "wisely."
Hassan met yesterday (Saturday) with Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, head of the SCAF and effective head of state, and said he was "glad that this meeting took place" and that he shared with Tantawi in full honesty his concerns.
Hassan said that he was hopeful that the SCAF would adopt a set of recommendations that were forwarded by the Advisory Council yesterday that included the advancement of presidential elections and the arrest of several members of the previously ruling National Democratic Party whose association with a wave of acts of violence that has hit society in the past few months was revealed by investigating authorities.
"I am hopeful that the SCAF will act upon these recommendations in order to contain the unprecedented chaos that is threatening our society," said Hassan. He added that "the current level of chaos reveals that there is no firm control over state affairs, to the point that many felt they could have a free ride with their criminal schemes."
The elimination of the current state of chaos, Hassan insists, is essential for the proper execution of presidential elections that he hopes will produce "a wise and trustworthy president who can command the respect and faith of the nation."
Hassan, meanwhile, denied existing splits within the SCAF on the timing of the power transition. He said that according to information he has, "The SCAF is in agreement on this matter."