Egypt’s Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi said he does not expect the country to become a military state, amid fears the army might gain more power following Mohamed Morsi’s ouster.
Former president Morsi was deposed by the military on 3 July amid mass nationwide demonstrations against his rule. Since then, the army’s popularity has soared, with several campaigns calling on army Commander-in-Chief Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi to run for president in 2014.
El-Beblawi said in a TV interview on pan-Arab satellite channel Sky News Arabia on Sunday that Egypt would not be “militarised.”
“One of the main gains of the January 2011 Revolution was ending the concept of the military state,” he said, “Not just because the people do not want it, but because the army itself realised a military state harms it.”
He stressed that the army has an “important and noble” role to protect the country’s “borders,” adding that it would lose its main mission if it were more involved in politics.
El-Beblawi also spoke of mediation efforts between the government and the Muslim Brotherhood, the group from which Morsi hails. Brotherhood members and supporters have been calling for his reinstatement in regular protests since his ouster and they reject Egypt’s interim leadership.
There have been reports regarding talks with the Brotherhood, mediated by Islamist figures like Mohamed Kamal Abu-Magd and Mohamed Selim El-Awa. However, none have reached an agreement.
“All I have heard is various individuals saying they are mediating; I don’t know representing whom… but truly, there is nothing at present,” he said.
Meanwhile, tensions have been building between pro-Morsi protesters and the police amid a crackdown by security forces on the Brotherhood, with hundreds killed or detained since two pro-Morsi sit-ins were forcibly dispersed mid-August.
“The political problem in Egypt is such that there has to be increased security,” El-Beblawi said, “but the security solution is not enough. A political solution has conditions, including accepting the principles of a state we want – human rights, equality, [and] separating religion from politics.”
“Reconciliation should not be about the past, but about the system we aspire to,” he added.
El-Beblawi also affirmed that his government is deeply committed to the interim roadmap, paving the way for early presidential elections in 2014.
The Prime Minister commented on political satirist Bassem Youssef’s comeback show, aired on Friday, which raised controversy over jokes concerning El-Sisi and interim President Adly Mansour. El-Beblawi said he does not anticipate the cancelling of the show.
The day after broadcast, four complaints were filed against Youssef, accusing him of defaming the military. His host TV network CBC issued a statement saying it is “keen on not using phrases and innuendos that may lead to mocking national sentiment or symbols of the Egyptian state.”
El-Beblawi said he did not see the episode, but spoke about media in general, maintaining it should include differing views.
“Freedom to critique is needed,” he said, “If a country lacks that, it lacks vitality and diversity.”
“However, what I see in a lot of media, is the propagation of false information; we need more objectivity in reporting the facts.”