'I don't hope the military takes over': ElBaradei

Yasmine Wali, Ahram Online, Wednesday 13 Mar 2013

Prominent opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei says he is not among those who wish for a military takeover amid the present crisis, though military rule would be better than militia rule

Mohamed El Baradei
Mohamed El Baradei, Head of the Constitution Party (Photo: AP)

Mohamed ElBaradei, head of Egypt's Constitution Party and a founding member of the National Salvation Front (NSF), is not hoping for a military takeover.

He made the comments on CBC's Hona El-Asema television show with Lamis El-Hadidy, Tuesday evening.

The leading opposition figure explained that Egypt suffered greatly under Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) rule. "It was very bitter," he said.

However, ElBaradei said that military institution rule would be better than rule under Islamist militias, if Egyptians had a choice.

ElBaradei explained that the military is a patriotic institution that doesn’t wish to participate in the political scene because of the harm it does them and the political scene.

"They do not know the depth of the political arena," he explained.

National dialogue

The popular opposition figure clearly stated his willingness to meet with President Mohamed Morsi, Khairat El-Shater (the face of the Muslim Brotherhood), Saad El-Katatni, head of the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, Amr Moussa, member of the NSF, and Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh, former Brotherhood member and founder of the Strong Egypt Party, to try to resolve the current political crisis.

ElBaradei said the president needs to make a gesture of trust, so the others can participate in a meeting. ElBaradei explained that he met previously with the president and three days later Morsi implemented a controversial constitutional declaration (in November 2012), voiding the basis of their dialogue.

"Most of the opposition members do not want to participate in the dialogue with President Morsi as this will reflect to the Western media that we are reaching national consensus. In fact, the president is initiating dialogue [to give] an image of consensus, not [to create] a real one," he explained.

New government, NSF demands

The Constitution Party founder proposed that Farouq El-Oqda, who led Egypt's Central Bank for nine years, or Hani Sarei El-Din, who served as chair of the Capital Markets Authority and board chair of a number of banks, take the prime minister's seat.

"This is if the president is willing to reshuffle the government. The prime minister [should] preferably have an economic background and [be] politically seasoned to put Egypt on the right direction," he explained.

When El-Hadidy asked ElBaradei of possibility of El-Shater or Hassan Malek, president of the committee for communication between businessmen and the presidency, being prime minister, he replied: "I don’t know their capabilities for managing this phase."

The president, the NSF and the Brotherhood

"Morsi is insisting on relying on his trustees (his inner circle), so he has to be solely accountable and cannot hold the opposition responsible for his mistakes," he added.

"The president is paving a direction for Egypt which will unfortunately hit a dead end," he explained.

ElBaradei also said that the Morsi is incapable of managing the country. "If the president does not comprehend this, then it is a crisis, and if he doesn’t understand that, then it is even worse," he added.

"Mr President, announce tomorrow your willingness to formulate the cabinet and your preparation to meet national interests and we will all back you. Stop being stubborn, because eventually we will see the consequences of your actions," ElBaradei stated.

ElBaradei explained that a senior source in the Brotherhood confessed that the Brotherhood cannot manage the country alone. "The Brotherhood wants followers and not partners in taking responsibility, and that is what the NSF refuses," he added.

He further explained that he is not concerned with early presidential elections; however, he cares for Egypt's sake, regardless of who is ruling Egypt.

ElBaradei underlined that the NSF is willing to help the president to help Egypt, and not to strip the ruling authority of power, as the Brotherhood thinks.

To the NSF

Addressing the NSF, ElBaradei stated: "You have to forget any political disagreement and unite in forming two or three parties and shut out any minor platforms you are working from."

He added that the NSF has to surpass the biggest challenge, which is reach out to the poor, not to the elite or the middle class. "The people will be thankful if you surpass the difficulties we are currently facing."

ElBaradei called on the revolutionary youth to unite because their dispersal will loosen their grip over the January 25 Revolution.

On John Kerry's visit

ElBaradei revealed that the US ambassador in Cairo asked him to meet Secretary of State John Kerry but he declined because he was not formally invited.

ElBaradei explained that he had a telephone conversation with Kerry where he explained the opposition stance and the ruling party stance, in order to give Kerry a better understanding of the current Egyptian political landscape.

He discussed with Kerry that the International Monetary Fund will not support Egypt unless it reaches national consensus. He also revealed that Kerry advocated accepting conditions for funding since Egypt is on the verge of bankruptcy.

ElBaradei told Kerry that the NSF is willing to reconcile if its principal demands are respected, especially on the formulation of a new government, the formation of a committee to amend the constitution, a plan for the transition period, compensation for the families of the revolution's martyrs, and managing Egypt on the basis of national participation.

Parliamentary elections

"The NSF is ready to enter upcoming parliamentary elections if the electoral law is fair, voter indexes filtered, a new government formed that is able to manage the country without [neglecting other] political forces, and a committee fomulated to amend the constitution," ElBaradei explained.

"We are willing to enter the elections and there is nothing wrong with failure in democracy. However, justice is conditional in these elections. The NSF has the opportunity to achieve the majority of seats or achieve a respectful minority of parliamentary seats. The NSF has the opportunity to achieve 40 percent minimum," he explained.

ElBaradei stated that Amnesty International described a number of laws issued by the Shura Council, including limits on the freedom of protest, as "betraying the youth who sparked the January 25 Revolution."

On other issues

ElBaradei revealed the launch of a project next week to resolve Egypt's political, economic and social problems. He added that he worked with a number of youth on it.

On events in Port Said, ElBaradei said that if he was in the president's position he would have searched for the people who welded the stadium doors shut, prevent Alhy Ultras from escaping.

ElBaradei expressed his regret for ordinary Egyptian citizens "for the revolution that was not able to gather its seeds." "Don’t give up," he added: "You are able to surpass these difficulties because you made history."

Egypt has been rocked by weeks of violence and widespread calls for civil disobedience amid mounting discontent with the performance of the Islamist-led government.

Unrest included the burning of the Egyptian Football Association headquarters Saturday following a verdict in the trial of the Port Said football massacre.

The trial has been behind weeks of mounting tensions in Egypt, coinciding with the second anniversary of the January 25 Revolution, many demands of which remain unfulfilled.

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