Egyptian presidential candidate Mohamed Mursi said that choosing a system of governance for Egypt at the coming stage is quite complicated owing to the circumstances through which the country has been going since the ouster of the regime.
“In the beginning, a parliamentary system seemed the best for Egypt, yet on a second thought, Egypt has just gotten rid of a presidential dictatorship so in the transitional period it is better to have a system that blends the parliamentary with the presidential,” Mursi told Al Arabiya’s Special Interview.
Mursi, who is also the chairman of the Freedom and Justice Party, the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, said the president will have to give up many of his powers to the parliament.
“The powers of the parliament and the president should complement each other and this should be stated in the new constitution.”
Mursi admitted to the fact the current members of the predominantly-Islamist parliament are still not experienced enough and require a great deal of training to gain the required political skills. However, he expressed his optimism about their ability to take part in governing the country.
“Members of parliament are the products of this stage Egypt is going through and we all need to be patient.”
Despite this relative lack of experience, MPs needed to assume their responsibilities in order to establish a democracy in which the president is no longer the only one in charge.
“Gone are the days when the president is the greatest power in the country. The president cannot rule alone and the parliament has to share power with him,” he said.
According to Mursi, after the MPs performance improves, parliament can gradually take over until it becomes a parliamentary state.
“This hopefully can happen after one presidential term, but if it doesn’t, the mixed system can stay for maybe another term till Egypt is ready for the parliamentary system. Until then, both should cooperate.”
Mursi said that he will resign from the chairmanship of the Freedom and Justice Party the moment he wins the elections.
“The president of Egypt has to be the president of all Egyptians and should not be affiliated to one party or another. The Freedom and Justice Party has many other leaders that can replace me if I become president. Until this happens, my affiliation is to the party and my platform is that of the party.”
Regarding concerns over the rise of political Islam and the isolation Egypt will suffer when Islamists are fully in power, Mursi said that these assumptions were part of the former regime’s propaganda against Islamists.
“The former regime tarnished the image of Islamists in front of foreign powers to justify its stay in power.”
Mursi said that Egypt will prove to the West that Islamists are not hostile like the former regime portrayed them and stressed his and his party’s keenness on maintaining good relations with Western power like the United States.
“Egypt will also abide by all agreements it signed including the peace treaty with Israel even though we reserve the right to revise it. Yet, we will always support the Palestinian cause and the Palestinians’’ right of return and self-determination.”
Mursi added that he also supports the right of Palestinians to resist occupation and argued that it has always been Israel that started the bloodshed.
“Palestinians have to defend themselves when they are attacked and it is now Israel who is occupying Palestinian land through going beyond the Green Line that was in itself a source of controversy.”
Mursi refused to see support given by Salafi powers to former Brotherhood member and current presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh as an objection to his candidacy or as a stance taken against the Muslim Brotherhood or the Freedom and Justice Party.
“This choice is an indication of the richness and diversity of the Egyptian political scene and demonstrated that people are now making their own decisions.”
For Mursi, the term “spare candidate” ─ which has been recently used in reference to his candidacy following the disqualification of the Brotherhood’s first choice Kahirat al-Shater ─ is not disparaging at all.
“On the contrary, this means that I belong to a powerful institution that has several qualified members and it proves that this institution is not about individuals but works as one big entity.”
Mursi noted that his nomination came as a result of the party’s realization that the situation in Egypt requires that they field a candidate regardless of who he is.
“The Brotherhood’s Consultative Assembly first chose Khairat al-Shater then when legal issues obstructed his candidacy, they looked for another candidate who will implement their project for Egypt. There is nothing wrong with that.”
Mursi added that the Freedom and Justice Party approached several people from outside the party and the Brotherhood in order to support them in the presidential elections, but they all expressed their unwillingness to take part in the race.
“It was then when we started thinking that we need someone from inside the group and the party because we knew that this is better for Egypt at the coming stage.”
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)