Heikal: Upcoming president of Egypt needs a miracle

Zeinab El Gundy, Sunday 20 May 2012

Veteran journalist Mohamed Hassenein Heikal says presidential elections in three days will not solve Egypt's problems; assesses candidates and their likely difficulties if elected

Mohamed Hassanein Heikal
File photo: Leading Egyptian journalist Mohamed Hassanein Heikal a casts his vote during a national referendum, at a school in Cairo March 19, 2011. (Photo: AP)

Famous Egyptian writer and journalist Mohamed Hassenein Heikel spoke Sunday in interview with Al-Ahram newspaper about the progress of the Egyptian revolution and the upcoming presidential elections. Heikal warns that the elections alone will not solve Egypt's problems or the surmount challenges the revolution is facing.

“There are presidential elecitons after two days and may I say that it seems to me that none of the presidential candidates has a vision or even a team of advisers and executives ready to manage the state as soon as he is elected president.” Heikal added that he does not know how any of the presidential candidate will act regarding the country's varied institutions, whether parliament or the army or even regarding the president's responsibilities to the people.

The former minister of information in the time of President Nasser revealed that he was visited by a number of presidential candidates in his home and that despite the fact that he wishes all of them luck, he believes that each one of them would need a miracle to succeed as a president, taking into consideration that Egypt will not have only a parliament without a constitution but also a president without a constitution.

Addressing the frontrunner candidates, the veteran journalist spoke about Mohamed Morsi, Abdel Moneim Abul-Fotouh, Amr Moussa and Ahmed Shafiq.

“If Dr Mohamed Morsi, the presidential candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood, wins the presidential elections, will the state — from the presidency to parliament to the cabinet — be under Islamist control? Is this acceptable and sustainable?” Heikal wondered. “How would President Morsi act with the Ministry of Interior, that has a bitter history vis-a-vis the Muslim Brotherhood, or with the army, that they want to penetrate? How would President Morsi will act with the Constitutional Court, which is already at odds with the Islamist majority in the People's Assembly?" Heikal wondered, adding that he is still among the group in the country that wants Islamists to have a chance to rule in Egypt.

Moving to Amr Moussa, Heikal wondered about the future of relations between parliament — with an Islamist majority — and Moussa if he is elected president. “I do not know why Amr Moussa is insisting on claiming that he was at odds with Mubarak’s policies when he was a foreign minister, which was actually impossible. Still, this won’t affect the man’s history or the fact that he was working for the Egyptian state and not the regime.” Heikal gave examples of how 1919 revolution leader Saad Zaghloul was a minister in Mostafa Pasha Fahmy’s cabinet that allied the British occupation, and that former President Nasser swore loyalty to the royal throne but led a movement that ended monarchic rule in Egypt altogether years later.

“How would Abdel Moneim Abul-Fotouh deal with the army from one side and the Muslim Brotherhood from the other if he is elected?” Heikal wondered. Abul-Fotouh and Heikal met at the latter's home a couple of days ago.

Regarding presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq, Heikal asked how he would deal with parliament on the one hand and security problems on the other, having boldly promised to bring security in only one month.  

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