Police state not coming back, says Egypt's interim president

Nada Hussein Rashwan, Wednesday 4 Sep 2013

Adly Mansour said in his first television interview that Egypt is 'reviewing' its relations with certain countries who have not been supportive of the transitional government

Egypt's Interim President Adly Mansour (Photo: Reuters)

In his first television interview since his installment as Egypt's interim president, Adly Mansour rejected claims that the Mubarak regime is making a comeback after the ouster of Mohamed Morsi in July.

"No force can turn back the clock, neither to the former regime or the one before it. What happened after 25 January [2011] was an attempt at creating a clone of the former regime but with a religious tone."

Mansour, in a recorded interview aired Tuesday evening on state television, dismissed concerns that a police state is reestablishing itself in the country following the security forces’ violent dispersal on 14 August of two large pro-Morsi protest camps in Cairo. The dispersals, which left hundreds dead, were followed by mass arrests of Muslim Brotherhood leaders and members.

"I know the police faced a lot of criticism in dispersing the [pro-Morsi] sit-ins, which were not peaceful, but they tried to pursue all peaceful stages [to clear the camps] and there was no response," he said. “Still, they applied restraint and committed to the international standards and legal means of clearing the sit-ins."

"The police apparatus realises it is now fulfilling a new role and will not lose the trust it regained from the people," he added.

Mansour added that the resignation of former vice president Mohamed ElBaradei in protest over the dispersal of the sit-ins came as a surprise to him. "I tried to get him to reconsider his decision, but he insisted," Mansour said.

"I wrote to him in my acceptance letter of his resignation that I wished he hadn’t left his position at such a critical time for the country."

Mansour went on to assert that the announcement of a one-month state of emergency and a strict curfew following the dispersal of the sit-ins was a necessity, although "as a man of the law" he did not relish doing so.

"There was no other alternative to confront the organised danger the nation was facing," Mansour said.

On 14 August, the interim government announced a one-month state of emergency and a curfew from 7pm to 6am, which was gradually eased to start at 11 pm.

"The decision to extend the emergency state and the curfew is linked to the improvement in the security situation which will favoirably reflect on citizens' lives as well as the economy," Mansour said. "How could investors or tourists come to Egypt while it is still facing a terrorism threat? This matter has to be dealt with first.”

Mansour also said that the amount of foreign direct investment in the country has plummeted to 2 billion dollars, after having reached 13 billion dollars in 2007.

"The cabinet's priorities are to commit to the transitional roadmap, to restore security and to improve the economic situation."

Mansour maintained that he gave interim Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi "full powers" in choosing his ministers, but only asked that the cabinet includes a ministry for transitional justice.

'Reviewing foreign friends'

Mansour said that the interim government is currently reviewing its foreign relations after the 3 July ouster of Morsi was met with condemnation from some members of the international community.

"I am consulting with Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy in strategically reviewing our foreign relations to differentiate between our real friends and those who should not be classified in that category anymore," he said

The interim president expressed dissatisfaction at the official stances of Qatar and Turkey – key foreign allies of the Morsi administration - who have both vehemently condemned the military's ouster of Morsi on 3 July amid mass protests.

"Our patience is running out regarding the Qatari stance," he said.

"The Turkish reaction has reflected short-sightedness and personal interest, not realising the amount of cooperation between the two countries," Mansour said.

"Neither ourselves nor the people of Turkey expected the stance of the Turkish government, which shouldn't have reacted based on the perspective of one faction," he added.

"We hope for better relations with Turkey, but we do not accept interference in our internal affairs.”

Mansour said that the US and the European Union stances are still unclear, but that he is starting to see signs that they will side with the interim government.

"I hope the US and the EU governments realise their interests will only be achieved when they align with the people's will."

Mansour, however, hailed the governments of the Gulf states of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for their stances in supporting the interim government since Morsi’s ouster.

The interim president also said that if the country's situation was stable enough, he intends to give the speech for Egypt at the upcoming UN General Assembly, to explain the Egyptian situation to the international community.

"I refuse the notion that the ballot box is the end. The former president himself betrayed the ballot box. If a president promised a certain project and started breaking his promise from day one, should people be expected to remain silent?

"Real democracy is rule of the people by the people, not a particular group."

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