Ibrahim Mahlab (Photo: Reuters)
Egyptian Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab discussed Saturday in interview on the privately-owned channel CBC the pardons made by ousted president Mohamed Morsi, the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam issue, the budget deficit, poverty rates in Egypt, and other matters.
Mahlab stressed that ministers in his government have been working on the completion of the roadmap that was set down after Morsi's ouster in order to "represent the will of Egyptians".
"I'm satisfied with the cooperation and the work the government has achieved since its appointment," he said.
Mahlab was asked to form a new government 25 February after former Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi and his cabinet resigned the previous day.
In the interview, Mahlab highlighted that the percentage of poverty in Egypt is now 21 percent and that 4.5 percent are living in an extremely poor conditions. He said the economic crisis and security problems were the key challenges that face his government.
Mahlab said that the budget deficit is currently LE350 billion.
No backing for Sisi
Meanwhile, Mahlab denied all claims made by presidential hopeful Hamdeen Sabahi that the current government is backing former army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi who is also running in the elections.
He then asked all businessmen and all institutions to organise working hours to allow all Egyptians to vote in the upcoming elections that are scheduled to take place 26-27 May.
Speaking about the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam issue, Mahlab said the government has many solutions to solve this issue and that his visits to many African countries might be helpful.
“Ethiopia has the right to develop its country, but also the Egyptian people has the right to live,” said Mahlab.
The Grand Renaissance Dam, currently under construction, is situated near the Sudanese border on the Blue Nile — a main Nile tributary. It is set to be the biggest hydroelectric dam in Africa, producing as much as 6,000 megawatts of energy.
Egypt has repeatedly expressed concern that the dam will affect its share of Nile water. Ethiopia insists this will not happen.
Mahlab also spoke about the pardons made during ousted president Morsi's rule.
Soon after Morsi was sworn into office he released tens of members of hard-line Islamist groups Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya and Islamic Jihad, both of which had orchestrated acts of violence against the state in the 1990s.
"I have been reviewing the cases of those released under Morsi. Drug dealers and Islamist extremists are among those released," he added.
Last week, Minister of Interior Mohamed Ibrahim said the ministry had formed a committee to revise presidential pardons granted to Islamist "extremists" by Morsi during his one year in office.
Mahlab ended his speech by again asking all Egyptians to participate in the upcoming presidential elections.