Al-Shater: Nahda Project Starts with Building a Strong Democratic System
Khairat Al-Shater, Deputy Chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood, said that the fall of the former president after the repression practiced against him and the Muslim Brotherhood bequeathed a great deal of optimism, despite the difficult circumstances.
He noted that the struggle between the various political actors and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) takes place in a framework of ambiguity under pressure from special interest groups affiliated with the former regime.
“Those are fighting hard against any new system that would achieve the demands of the revolution of building a democratic system based on the peaceful transfer of power, rights of citizenship and respect for minorities as well as building effective political institutions, and the launch of the Egyptian renaissance project that will fulfill the aspirations of all Egyptians.”
During an interview with “Al-Haqiqa (The Truth)” program on the satellite TV channel Dream 2, Tuesday night, Al-Shater said that establishing a democratic system and strong political institutions is the actual beginning of the launch of the Renaissance Project.
Arguing that the completion of building the state’s vital institutions will be through a process of political reform, which began with the election of the first post-revolution parliament, he mentioned that there are attempts to disrupt the march of the Parliament and disgrace it in front of public opinion, and attempts to question its constitutionality and move the case alleging its illegitimacy, which casts doubt on the overall political process.
The Brotherhood’s Deputy Chairman stressed that he saw no reason to expedite the writing of the constitution before the presidential election in light of the difficulty of agreeing on the Constituent Assembly and the impossibility of conducting community dialogue on the constitution before it is released, since the Assembly’s original formation was blocked.
“The culture of joint work between various political actors is absent, after 30 years of Mubarak regime repression, where the philosophy of ‘divide and rule’ prevailed. This casts a dark shadow on the speed of completion of the Constitution in light of differing views on the content of the Constitution and the different perceptions of the political players regarding the political system best suited to Egypt: presidential or parliamentary or mixed. Ultimately, this will determine the powers of the elected president.”
Al-Shater noted that the powers of the president as per the Constitutional Declaration can be applied in the case of the newly elected president, until a new constitution is issued, within months of the end of presidential election.
“We should understand that consensus means reaching a great degree of harmony and agreement on the economic and political systems. Full compatibility is an imaginary concept, impossible to achieve on the ground.
“So, popular majority is the ultimate judge to resolve the dispute between the political actors. In any event, what really matters in this case is the content rather than form.”
The Brotherhood’s number two suggested that SCAF should set down its demands in a document that may be submitted for discussion among political actors, stakeholders and members of the Constituent Assembly.
He rejected the principle of putting just a ‘final figure’ for the military budget without discussing its details, stressing that it is unacceptable to grant any authority extensive powers to dispose of its own affairs, in light of Egypt’s bitter experience with the corrupt defunct regime, caused by side-stepping the Egyptian people, with the state and the executive branch encroaching upon all other authorities, which led to corruption.
Further, Al-Shater underscored the need to strike a balance between confidentiality and transparency in military budgets, adding that eastern and southern Asia states established that balance by giving oversight powers to specialist parliamentary committees with the prohibition of dissemination of such information in the media.
With regard to the Ganzouri Government, Al-Shater asserted that the Cabinet is following a ‘scorched earth’ policy with the next government, forcing it to repay loans it is spending without providing any details as to how they would be repaid.
“It also seeks to damage relations and eliminate the area of convergence between Egypt and the Gulf States by repeatedly issuing statements against those nations, and claiming that they have not fulfilled their commitment to support the Egyptian economy.
“The Ganzouri government is evidently making maneuvers to appoint icons of the old corrupt regime in leadership positions in the governorates and the Ministries, which doubles the burden on the budget and restores control to former regime cronies over arteries of government bodies.
“It is quite absurd that all this is taking place at a time when Egyptians are rising to build their state institutions on bases of efficiency, guiltlessness, honor and uprightness.”
Moreover, Al-Shater said that the decision of the Supreme Presidential Electoral Commission (SPEC) is a gross legal mistake, since his official pardon cancelled the original verdict and sentence as well as all sanctions, penalties, effects and other criminal implications of the original grossly unfair verdict.
Therefore, he continued, there is no need for specific exoneration in this case, stressing that he will sue Farouk Sultan, SPEC Chairman, for claiming that Al-Shater concealed some relevant documents even though the military court in an official statement addressed to SPEC proved Sultan’s allegation an unfounded lie.
The Brotherhood’s deputy chief warned that SCAF’s maneuvers over the last three months throw doubt over its intention to fully hand over power to a civilian president.
“It seems SCAF wants to relinquish power only to a puppet president it can control to rule the country through him, from behind a curtain. Indeed, all the tactics that accompanied candidacy of Major General Omar Suleiman and Major General Ahmed Shafiq, point that way – from the official processions that honored them to false Media news reports claiming that I and Major Shafiq bowed out from the presidential race in favor of Omar Suleiman.
“Further evidence confirming those suspicions is their insistence on the Ganzouri government remaining in power, despite the collapse of the country’s cash reserve and the doubling of the budget deficit.”
Furthermore, Al-Shater criticized the way the media dealt with the presidential campaign of the Brotherhood’s candidate, pointing that they focused on limited negative moments and ignored bright and brilliant scenes of Dr. Mohamed Morsi’s conferences.
“One privately-owned newspaper focused on a gathering of about 50 students at the University of Mansoura who were protesting against our candidate, although the conference organized by the university was attended by more than 10 thousand students inside and outside the building.”
Al-Shater asserted that cadres of the Brotherhood and its political wing are a coherent and integrated team, working in an ultra-institutional way, more than anyone can imagine.
“While many Egyptians do not know any great details about the party or the group, the deliberately subversive media plays a major role endeavoring to distort and tarnish the image of our candidate.
“The people’s support for the candidate of the Brotherhood and the party is based on their conviction of a project and a set of ideas. The group has been working for 80 years, preparing this project. It did partake in elections under conditions more difficult than this and survived vicious and dirty wars relentlessly waged by the corrupt former regime.
“Now, we are talking about popular endorsement moving towards a specific direction or current, not simply interested in a particular individual, whether Al-Shater or Morsi. What has taken root in the people’s hearts and minds is the idea of the civilizational project in which everyone participates, regardless of who is at the helm.
“Likewise, we address the Egyptian people knowing that they adopt the ideas of the group and the party and do not insist on the support of particular individuals.”
Al-Shater further pointed out that the decision of the group and the party to field a candidate in the presidential election is a political institutional decision, not focused on any particular individual.
“The decision, instead, is based on the circumstances and factors that dictate the decision to run. We cannot leave important matters to chance.”
The Brotherhood’s leader pointed out that the group was deeply concerned over statements by Omar Suleiman, who accused the group of trying to assassinate him. It immediately triggered worries that a sequel of the great anti-Brotherhood plot will be in production shortly.
On the position of the Brotherhood with respect to Dr. Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, Al-Shater said: “Every political party on the scene has a set of rules to abide by – the so-called party commitment. Also, in most countries of the world, at times of major transformations, multiple perspectives emerge within any given party. Naturally, those who contradict the majority have every right to hold onto their views.
“What matters, in the end, is the ballot box. We are not unduly concerned as to whom the people will choose. Indeed, the multiplicity of candidates does not cause us any concern with regard to the electoral process.
“In fact, whoever is selected by the Egyptian people, the Brotherhood will pay him every respect. Neither the party nor the group wants to deal with democracy with exaggerated sensitivity, since the diversity and multiplicity of candidates are good for all.”
Finally, Al-Shater added: “If the party and the group do not win in those elections, we still have a project in the service of Egypt, which we will not abandon. We will not feel any frustration or sadness. We accept the nature of the democratic process.
“I remind myself and the Egyptian people that we must stand firm with all strength against fraud in the forthcoming presidential elections, and that all should choose the candidate they deem most suitable for the job.”