Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—Egyptian presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahy said he will attempt to rebuild consensus in Egypt if he wins in an exclusive interview with Asharq Al-Awsat this week.
“Not everyone who supported Mubarak is corrupt, nor are those who supported Mursi terrorists,” he said, adding that his priority if elected would be to end the stark polarization that has characterized Egyptian politics since the downfall of Muslim Brotherhood-backed former president Mohamed Mursi last year.
In a wide-ranging interview, Sabahy told Asharq Al-Awsat that despite his desire to build consensus he supported the ban on the Muslim Brotherhood from taking part in national politics, but said people should distinguish between leaders of the Islamist group and ordinary people who sympathized with its goals.
He added that he believed everybody, even Islamists, had the right to protest peacefully, and that the authorities should differentiate between terrorists and those who are merely expressing their political opinions.
When asked about the limited powers the Egyptian constitution gave the president, Sabahy said it did not necessarily hinder the work of the head of the state, but instead allowed for the creation of a more democratic system by strengthening the role of parliament.
On the subject of Egypt’s struggling economy, Sabahy spoke of his ambition to achieve growth by encouraging cooperation among the private, public and joint sectors.
As for Cairo’s future relations with Turkey and Qatar, Sabahy said ties with these two countries should be governed by respect for mutual interests and non-interference with Egypt’s domestic affairs.
Overall, Sabahy said the goals of the January 25 revolution against Hosni Mubarak in 2011 and the toppling of Mursi in July 2013 remained unfulfilled, and that he would work to complete them.
Egypt’s presidential election is scheduled to take place on May 26 and 27.
The full interview with Hamdeen Sabahy will be published in English on Monday.