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Mohamed Abdelaziz: The view from Tahrir Square - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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A member of the "Tamarod - Rebel!" petition drive against Mursi, gestures with an Egyptian flag in front of army soldiers standing guard in front of protesters who are against Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi, near the Republican Guard headquarters in Cairo July 3, 2013. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

A member of the “Tamarod – Rebel!” petition drive against Mursi, gestures with an Egyptian flag in front of army soldiers standing guard in front of protesters who are against Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi, near the Republican Guard headquarters in Cairo July 3, 2013. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—Mohamed Abdelaziz, a founder of the Tamarod (rebellion) campaign–which toppled President Mohamed Mursi a few days ago–has revealed a meeting will take place shortly with interim President Adly Mansour and the chief-of-staff of the armed forces, Lt. Gen. Abdelfattah El-Sissi, in order to discuss plans for the formation of a national salvation government.

He stressed that such government will be led by a powerful political figure affiliated to the 25 January revolution, and aided by four deputies for economy, security, social dialogue, and national reconciliation.

Abdelaziz, accompanied by Mahmoud Badr–a representative of Tamarod campaign–attended the meeting with Sisi last Wednesday, at the end of which, Sisi announced the ousting of Mursi and the implementation of road map for a transitional phase where the constitutional court chief is appointed interim president until early presidential elections are held.

In an exclusive interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Abdelaziz added that the next government will be based on competence, not a party or sectarian quota system, and rejected claims that the recent events in Egypt were tantamount to a military coup, emphasizing that there this was “a clear road map to hand over power to an elected president within a specified time-frame, adding that the armed forces’ commitment was undoubted.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: How far have you reached on the discussions to form a new government, and have interim president Adly Mansour or General Sisi spoken to you about this?

Mohamed Abdelaziz: No direct negotiations have taken place so far on the formation of a transitional government, but a meeting will be held in the next few hours with president Adly Mansour and General Sisi. This is being arranged very soon, and talks are on-going about our suggestions regarding the names of the prime minister and his ministerial aides.

Q. What are the most prominent names on your list for the new government?

We have not decided on a list so far but will do soon. Discussions are continuing with all political powers. Some of the main points of the list of suggestions will be announced after meeting the president.

Q. What are the broad lines for the government you want?

We want a prime minister who is a strong political figure and who is linked to the revolution. He will work with four deputies, one for economic and financial affairs, one for security, another for social dialogue, and finally one for national reconciliation and transitional justice, on condition that these deputies are appointed on merit and expertise. The rest of the government must be one that is built on competence, not on the basis of party, political or sectarian affiliation. This is the only standard we want to use in selecting ministers.

Q. Does that exclude the military or those affiliated to the Islamist parties from the next government?

As I said, the main criterion will be competence. Whoever this prime minister was, if he is competent, then that is fine. This means that this will not be a government that is shared between political parties according to a quota system. It means that no one will be excluded, even the Islamic movement and its parties, as long as the person selected was competent. What will decide the appointment of a minister will be their ability to run the country amid these great challenges, and to be able to resolve the problems that were left to us by the previous government.

Q. How do you see the current violent clashes on the streets, caused by the ousting of President Mursi, and the demands by some to reinstate him?

I see that these are desperate attempts to bring violence back to the country, violence which killed former prime minister, Mahmoud Al-Nakrashi Basha, former President Anwar Al-Sadat, Farag Fouda and others. These people are trying to go back to what they know best, which is violence. However, the Egyptian people are united behind their army and will confront this terrorist group which is trying to being violence back. Dragging the country to civil war is something which will not be allowed by anyone. At the same time, we support any peaceful demonstrations because this is a right guaranteed by law to all, as long as it does not harm the security of the Egyptian people.

Q: The Al-Gama’a Al-Islamiyya has suggested a referendum on the the army’s road map and a return of former president Mursi to power. How do you view this proposal?

Everybody must know that what took place here is that the army has sided with the people’s will, which was expressed by millions in the streets. Those who cling to the results of the previous presidential elections should know that what constitutional legitimacy aims to do is express the satisfaction of the street, and if anything other than that happens, that legitimacy is lost, and therefore, there is no chance of Mursi returning to power. All this is an attempt by some to impose their will on the Egyptian people.

Q: Some have described the toppling of Mursi from power as a military coup. Is that a fair description?

The bias of the armed forces towards the will of the people is not a military coup, it is a national duty necessitated by the national responsibility of the armed forces that lean towards the people’s will, in order to defend the gains made by the revolution, and defend the country’s security. This is what forced millions to go to the streets, in order to oust the defunct regime.

Q: Do you not fear the possibility of the army seizing control and excluding civilians from power in the future?

There is a clear road map which is to hand over power to a civilian president, elected through early presidential elections, within a certain time-frame. The armed forces and Gen. Sisi have stressed in the statement to the Egyptian people that they do not seek power, and that there commitment is clear. The road map does not give the army any exclusive role apart from their natural role in siding with the people and defending Egyptian national security. It does not give them any political role. We do not want the army to have any political role, and the army itself has distanced itself from political life.

Q: How did you receive the resignation of the Attorney-General Abdel Meguid Mahmoud from his post after being returned through a judicial decision?

We welcome it of course. It is a good decision and it is appreciated, despite having differences with him previously and the fact that I had asked for his removal. We hope the Supreme Judicial Council selects a new attorney-general who represents all Egyptians without bias to any side.