ElBaradei criticises military trials of civilians, with exceptions

Reuters and Ahram Online, Wednesday 31 Aug 2011

Presidential hopeful Mohamed ElBaradei himself criticised for stating that military trials of civilians is acceptable in certain instances

Mohamed El-Baradei
Mohamed El-Baradei (Photo:Reuters)

Egyptian presidential hopeful Mohamed ElBaradei, in an interview published on Wednesday, criticised the ruling army's refusal to allow foreign monitoring of forthcoming elections and its subjection of civilians to military trials.

He criticised the subjection of political activists to military trials.

The ruling army has recently drawn fire for this practice.

"(Military trials of civilians) means dealing with the people with the same mentality as the former regime and deviating from the revolution's basic demand of returning to people their freedom and dignity," ElBaradei told al-Shorouk.

However, ElBaradei defended the use of military trials in the case of suspected thugs, rapists and those accused of attacking security officials. These comments have drawn strong criticism in Egypt from campaigners against military trials for civilians.

The former head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog also told the newspaper al-Shorouk he was concerned that continued economic stagnation in Egypt, following the exodus of tourists and investors in the wake of the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak, could fuel renewed popular anger in the country.

"Refusal of international election monitoring, one of the main seven demands voiced before the revolution for democratic transition (is based) on the erroneous understanding of interference in (the country's) sovereignty," ElBaradei said.

Earlier this year the ruling military council, which took over after Mubarak's overthrow in February, said it would not allow foreign monitoring of elections.

Parliamentary elections will take place in stages and dates are due to be announced in September. Presidential elections will follow but a date has not yet been set.

"International monitoring is confirmation of sovereignty and transparency and not the reverse," said ElBaradei, one of at least ten people who have said they intend to run, including former military officials, Islamists, judges and activists.

He said economic growth had stalled because security had not been fully restored to the streets since the uprising. Egypt's economy shrank in the first quarter and growth is expected to remain weak during the second half of 2011 as the political unrest freezes economic activity.

"The economy will not bounce back until security returns," ElBaradei said. "Security is returning gradually and is back at 65 per cent. Why has it not fully returned till now?"

"(If) the economy remains as it is, popular anger will return ...If a second revolution takes place, it may not be peaceful," ElBaradei said.

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