President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi during a meeting with members of the UK House of Commons and House of Lords (Photo: Al-Ahram)
Speaking in a meeting with a British delegation Saturday, newly-elected Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi affirmed the possibility still for “political reconciliation” in Egypt, revealed presidential spokesman Ihab Badawy.
El-Sisi explained that the reconciliation option has been in place since 3 July 2013 — the day he announced the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi following mass protests against the latter's one-year rule — while adding that reconciliation could only happen “with those whose hands are not stained with the blood of innocent Egyptians.”
The UK has repeatedly said it watches closely developments in Egypt, and has frequently called for an end to violence in the country. The UK has also pledged to continue its support “for the Egyptian people in their aspirations for greater economic opportunities, political participation, freedom and rights.”
The ouster of Morsi was followed by a severe crackdown on his Muslim Brotherhood members and sympathisers. Loyalists of the Islamist president deem his ouster a "coup d'etat" that sabotaged democracy in Egypt.
Meanwhile, attacks by Islamist militants against security forces have left over 500 officers and soldiers dead in recent months.
El-Sisi added that the “other side” should clarify what they have to offer to the country, and “stop claiming they own the ultimate truth.”
Saturday’s meeting was attended by several members of both the UK House of Commons and House of Lords. Also present were a number of Egyptian businessmen and Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Nabil Fahmy.
According to the statement issued by Badawy, El-Sisi, who affirmed his commitment to freedoms and rights in the upcoming period, added that the new constitution “which preserves rights and freedoms” will be soon be implemented through legislation made by the yet-to-be elected parliament.
Parliamentary elections in Egypt are expected by the end of the summer.
The former army chief, however, pointed out there should be a balance between “freedoms and rights and security of the nation and the people.”
El-Sisi added that human rights should not stop at “calls from the West on giving civil rights,” but should also cover fighting poverty, illiteracy, the enhancing of educational services and the creating of a moderate and tolerant “intellectual framework” that condemns extremism.
“El-Sisi asked how far the West is prepared to contribute in activating these main human rights, which in their core link to economic and social rights.”
“Is the West prepared to open free universities in Egypt, or to lower or cancel the country’s debts?” El-Sisi asked, according to Badawy’s statement.
El-Sisi added that Egypt acknowledges the problems of “the marginalised” in the country, explaining that the problem is not the state’s negligence, but rather the lack of resources. He also said that the West needs to adjust their perception of human rights and stop criticising without offering tangible procedures to solve these problems.
El-Sisi was inaugurated as Egypt’s president early this week after a landslide victory in the May presidential elections.