In a lengthy TV interview aired on Saturday evening on the Qatari-owned Al-Jazeera news network, Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi fielded tough questions from anchor Khadija Benguenna on domestic and international issues, and made some important announcements.
President Morsi, sounding reconciliatory to opponents and critics, used the 1 hour and 40 minute interview to send comforting messages to the liberal opposition, women and Copts.
"Our opposition is a point of light in our system"
"I respect our women and will do what it takes to push their plight forward"
"Copts are partners in the homeland," the president said.
The Prime Minister question
The president said a ministerial reshuffle, which has been a months-long demand of the opposition, will be announced soon.
The president explained that ministers whose performance have positively impacted ordinary Egyptian citizens will remain in their posts, while those who did not make such achievement will have to go.
Morsi, however, did not say say whether Prime Minister Hesham Qandil will continue in his post or be replaced in the reshuffle.
On the IMF loan saga
President Morsi said that Egypt's ongoing negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have not failed and that the IMF has its "conditions and priorities just like Egypt does."
Morsi slammed critics who charge the president is willing to sacrifice national independence in decision-making to get the $4.8 million loan.
“Our inability so far to secure the loan is the best proof of our refusal to give in to conditions set by the IMF”
The president said that while Egypt would continue negotiations with the IMF, it would not, however, accept a loan that would threaten the Egyptian people's economic security.
Qatar and Egypt: A close relationship?
In addition, Morsi dismissed repeated media reports and rumours claiming Egypt plans to "lease" the Suez Canal to Qatar.
"Egypt is not for sale to Qatar or any other country. These reports are false. I would never give up of a "speck of Egyptian sand."
“My relationship with Qatar is similar to our relationship with every other Arab country. It is based on love and respect. There are no secret deal between the two countries,” said the president.
Morsi, however, expressed special appreciation for Qatar’s support to Egypt after the revolution.
Since the January 25 Revolution in Egypt, the oil-rich Gulf nation has granted cash-strapped Cairo $5 billion, including a $1 billion grant and $4 billion worth of deposits in the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE).
On tensions with judiciary
President Morsi, who has been locked in hot disputes with the judiciary since he took office in 2012, praised Egyptian judges saying they played an important role through their work in paving the road for the revolution.
"I was arrested in May 2006 among others for supporting the Judiciary"
The president added that he was uncomfortable with recent calls for "purging the judiciary."
However, he said he believes Friday's protests [by Islamists], which demanded the purging of judiciary, came out of people's concern following the acquittal of several figures from the former regime.
On Palestine and Israel
On Palestine, the president said that Egypt constantly coordinates between Palestinian factions in order to facilitate a "binding" reconciliation deal.
The president dismissed all rumours which have circulated since he took power that Palestinians in the Hamas-controlled Gaza strip will be displaced to the Egyptian Sinai peninsula in a deal with Israel.
"The Palestinians love their land plus Egypt will never allow such a thing to happen"
The president also responded to critics who say Egypt should not be cooperating on security issues with Israel.
"Cooperation with Israel is nothing new. It has been the case for around 30 years since the signing of the peace treaty between the two countries," the president said.
Morsi, however, pointed out that Egypt after the revolution no longer take orders from "anyone."
“We respect our treaties, and the peace treaty has clearly stated that the perseverance of the rights of Palestinians is a must,” he stressed.
On Egypt-Iran relations, Morsi said people in Egypt have nothing to worry about, in reference to recent Salafist uproar on improving Egyptian relations with the Shia-majority country.
"Egyptian international relations are based the "interests of our citizens," Morsi said.
He also called upon the Iranian administration, which supports the Assad regime, to do more in order to help bring about a resolution to the Syrian crisis.