Egypt not on the verge of civil war: Deputy PM

Ahram Online, Saturday 10 Aug 2013

Deputy Prime Minister Ziad Bahaa El-Din says describing Morsi's removal as a 'coup' is an insult to Egyptians

Deputy PM Ziad Bahaa El-Din (Photo: Al-Ahram)

Egypt’s deputy prime minister, Ziad Bahaa El-Din refuted the possibility of civil war in Egypt, or sectarian strife, if the Muslim Brotherhood chose to go underground, adding that a restoration of law and order has happened, underlining that it has to happen in accordance with law and human rights standards.

In an interview with The Washington Post Friday, Bahaa El-Din said Egypt is going through a difficult time. However, he asserts that the current transition will quickly lead to parliamentary and presidential elections and the amendment of the constitution.

"There will be a committee to review the substance. The committee that drafted [the constitution passed under Morsi] was completely biased. The majority was Muslim Brotherhood. They tried to get things done quickly using their majority," he said.

When asked about the possibility of including Islamists in a future government, Bahaa El-Din replied saying that "anybody who has been part of violence cannot be included." "There has to be space for everybody, but within the confines of not violating the law," he added. 

Egypt's post-Morsi interim government does not include a single Islamist minister. Ministerial offers made to members of the Islamist current, including the Muslim Brotherhood, were turned down in rejection of the removal of Mohamed Morsi in what Islamists describe as "coup d'etat."

Bahaa El-Din went on to criticise the reaction of foreign countries that described the removal of Morsi as a coup, saying it was very annoying and insulting to Egyptians who had been on the streets for months in frustration with Morsi's government.

Mohamed Morsi was ousted 3 July by the army following days of unprecedented street protests against him and Muslim Brotherhood rule.

Regarding the relationship between the army and the Cabinet, Bahaa El-Din said that his decisions are not run by the army, while adding: "formally speaking, the head of the army (General Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi) is a member of the Cabinet."

"This government was formed under exceptional conditions ... It is a technocratic government that has very broad support in Egypt ... But the specificity of what powers are with the president, the government, the army are not spelled out clearly," he said. 

Meanwhile, on the long awaited IMF loan, Bahaa El-Din said that the IMF has to negotiate with a government that can deliver in the long-term.

"I am all for discussions with the IMF when they are ready. There has to be a better understanding by the Egyptian people of the economic conditions that may be involved in an IMF agreement," said Bahaa El-Din, adding that the political situation is impacting the economy in several ways, including partnerships other countries.

He added that the focus should be on a better form of democracy, calling on "the outstide world" to work with Egypt and tolerate some of the imperfections, "as long as the goal is to reach democracy again."

"The money that we are spending on subsidies has got to be better spent in order to achieve better social and economic results," added Bahaa El-Din.

When asked about a possible pardon for convicted NGO workers in Egypt, the deputy premier said a pardon can legally be issued by either the president or "if a law that comes out in the future makes whatever they did in the past legal."

Last June, a Cairo criminal court sentenced 43 NGO workers to between one and five years in prison on charges of illegally operating in Egypt and receiving foreign funding without permission.

Bahaa El-Din, a founder of the Egyptian Social Democratic party, was appointed mid-July. He was initially among the names suggested for the premiership in the first post-Morsi Cabinet, but his selection was opposed by the Salafist El-Nour Party.

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