We’ll have to reach out to Muslim Brotherhood - Amr Moussa to RT

Exclusion should not be the rule of the game, and Muslim Brotherhood should be included in the reconciliation efforts and compete in elections, Amr Moussa, a former presidential candidate, told RT in an exclusive interview.

Amr Moussa is a former presidential candidate and the leading figure in the National Salvation Front, which was, until recently, one of the main opposition coalitions in Egypt. They are currently in discussions with the military about this very difficult transitional period for Egypt.

RT:You are talking with the army at the moment. What’s being said and what can we expect?

Amr Moussa: In the next few weeks, days, not months, you should expect a new government, a transitional period; some basic committees to be established: one for the consideration and the other one for the constitution. We will try to move the country forward and compensate for the lost time or the time wasted over the last year.

RT:Are you still in talks with the military?

AM: After that there will be a new government and the new team working. But the National Salvation Front was an opposition group. Now it will cease to be an oppositional group. It will be a supportive group for the way forward.

RT:Right now we are seeing almost daily clashes across the country between rival protest groups, the violence is escalating.  What are you doing about it?

AM: The security forces and army are trying to maintain law and order on the streets. The people, who came out on 30th of June to raise their voice against the previous government and previous regime, are also banned from the streets but peacefully. In order to make the point what we protested, and what we want is not only to change the system or the regime, but to assure that we are going forward in a solid way, that would allow the country to get back on track.

RT:You say, you are going forward in a positive way. But moments after the ousting of Mohamed Morsi we had reports of hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood officials being arrested. The President himself was put under house arrest with no communication. TV networks were shut down. People are calling for a military court. How can you defend that? 

AM: I don’t have to defend it. There is no acquisition to defend, I guess. What happened in Egypt was all over the media, on the TV screens. Everybody saw millions of people running into the streets. It was not a coup; it was a popular uprising, if not a revolution. Therefore, the intervention of the army at a certain stage came after the crowds and rage was expressed and after the former President announced or referred to the possibility of a bloody confrontation if legitimacy is not maintained. So, the country was threatened. Threatened by bloody confrontation, I must say. But it is a revolution. It cannot be a coup. It was not decided and was not started by the army.

Egyptian supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood rallying in support of deposed president Mohamed Morsi run for cover during clashes with police outside the elite Republican Guards base in Cairo early on July 8, 2013. (AFP Photo)

There was no sudden move by the army. In fact the army spoke on three occasions a month or so ago. That the situation seems to be very serious and we hope and urge all parties to reconcile, talk together and agree on a part for the future. This is a very peaceful message.  Even the last one before the President Morsi was brought down the army declared that we hope that in the next 48 hours all the forces can meet. Then the president came up with his speech that you do that or else, that what prompted all the security forces to be very attentive, including, of course, the army. So, there is not a place in all those developments for a coup. 

RT:We had military rule before, after the fall of Hosni Mubarak. He didn’t have good track record. People are worried now, the military, actually, their intention is to take power.

AM: No. It is the civilian population that has reason against the failure of the previous regime. It was not done by the urging by the army. Not that at all. So, we all disagree and we are really unpleasantly surprised by the description and the insistence of certain Western media that it is a coup against democracy. As if democracy reigned in the country and everything was right. They definitely avoid the fact, that previous regime has failed in governing Egypt. And many Western countries were involved in telling Mr.Morsi and others that the economy is going down the drain and we are ready to help. We need discipline, we need a plan. There was nothing of that kind. So, there was a failure. The reason, why all this happened was the failure by the Morsi regime to show good governance and effective government.

RT:On the main stages at this pro-Morsi rallies we are hearing talks of martyrdom. People are saying they won’t leave; they want the president to be reinstated. How far you think this pro-Morsi supporters and “Muslim Brotherhood” will go?

AM: I believe he is supported by his own men. But his success was that he was supported by a wider circle of Egyptian citizens. So, it is not a hard core of Muslim Brotherhood that can give the necessary political support to maintain a regime. The wide support President Morsi got as a candidate and he was elected by the support of thirteen million people. Not all of them were in the Muslim Brotherhood. Those have withdrawn their support because of the failure in the services, in the economy, in security, and in all other issues, that you must have seen and perhaps suffered from during your stay in Egypt. Therefore, it is not and it should not be portrayed as a battle of confrontation between a block with a religious background and another block with civil, or democratic, or liberal background. This is not so. Had this regime of Morsi succeeded in achieving progress and reforming the country and moving the country forward nothing would have happened. We wouldn’t have revolted. It is a matter of achievement of progress, of reform, of good governance. For all of them are not there.

We are seeing a lot of violence on the streets. How far are people willing to take it, it to the death? 

AM: Don’t be mistaken, because this means they are calling for a bloody period. In the end, whoever starts this will pay deadly for it, because Egyptians are not ready to go through such an experience just to bring back a person or to talk about the ballot box legitimacy. Legitimacy is a general principle, not one act. The ballot box is not enough. That is just a beginning. And if you get 5 points for the beginning, the rest of 100 points should be given to achievement, to good governors, to good work, for efficient group rule of Egypt. This was absent. That is not enough to have the ballot box approving you and then you just sit and enjoy your life and let the people go down the drain. I don’t know how some people of a certain way of thinking believe that democracy is just about the ballot box, and whoever got the majority over there has the right to do or not to do anything.

Egyptian supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood rallying in support of deposed president Mohamed Morsi run for cover during clashes with police outside the elite Republican Guards base in Cairo early on July 8, 2013. (AFP Photo)

RT:You talk about difficulties under Mohhamed Morsi’s rule. Right now the economy is in free fall with clashes only going to make that worse in the long term. Surely what Egypt needs now is stability not regime change.  

AM: Yes, indeed. I agree with you. We need discipline, stability, but we need also efficiency, we need efficient government. It’s not a question of regime change or not change. It is about an efficient regime. Egypt is in an exceptional situation. It is not a normal situation. Just to say “All right. Let see what will happen tomorrow, after tomorrow”. Egypt was going down the drain. We were afraid about the collapse of the country. This should not be allowed. Had we continued that way, we would have faced a very ruinous fate. All of us near the end of the year that we spent with Dr.Morsi as president were asking ourselves, can we afford another year of the same way of governing, with the same people, the same directives, same inefficiency, lack of planning. We could not afford another year. This year was a year of failure. We must give a chance to some other government that we hope will succeed.

RT:The National Salvation Front was always a base of opposition to the Muslim Brotherhoods and Morsi. He's no longer here anymore. So, what are you going to do, what’s your plan?

AM: The National Salvation Front is no longer the opposition group. And definitely we should consider the direction in which we’ll go. We were discussing some economic plans, some ideas about the internal and external policies of Egypt. But we were overwhelmed by the events and developments. Now is the time we shall stand behind any reasonable government that will show efficiency and show commitment to the problems of Egypt.

RT:One of the criticisms of the National Salvation Front is that it has always been fractioned and never unites. What are you going to do with, for example, economic situation?

AM: I confess that this is true. But now it is a different time. And I see that the contacts that are being undertaking now they refer to the thirty June group, not the National Salvation Front. So, there is a kind of shift in collecting political forces to support the new regime.

‘Muslim Brotherhood should take part in elections’

RT:You talk about collective voices, now the Muslim Brotherhood are one of the large organizations here in Egypt will they be included in that.

AM: We’ll have to reach out to them. Exclusion should not be the rule of the game. They have a party, called the Freedom and Justice Party. They call for other parties to be included in the conciliation efforts. That is within the roadmap. And they have the elections to compete. I believe they have all the rights like other parties. 

RT:But how can you include the Muslim Brotherhood and the Freedom and Justice Party in the political road map of Egypt, if their leaders have been arrested?

AM: There were a lot of rumors about tens or more leaders arrested. Yesterday we’ve learned that Mr. Bandiolo was not under arrest. So rumors in fact are going wider and wilder. A lot of news, a lot of those things are not very accurate. Also, Egypt is in unprecedented exceptional circumstances. Some precautionary measures will be taken, but I hope at the end it is the rule of law that will prevail.

RT:Human rights organizations are talking about a witch hunt.

AM: I just refer you back to what’s going on in the country. And the demonstrations and the thousands of the Muslim Brotherhood that are moving from one square to another, listening to their speakers. There is certain degree, the squares for all of actions. For Muslim Brotherhood or others. So, I think, what you describe as massive campaign of unrest and pushing the Muslim Brotherhood out of the picture it’s not accurate, as you saw them yesterday in a meeting that brought out thousands. They listened to their leader and some other leaders were on the podium with him.  So, that shows, that not everybody was arrested except and perhaps those from the government and the security forces. So, that they have to be called to order. In addition to the fact, that Morsi is not under arrest, he is under protection. Perhaps it’s better for him.

RT:So, will you run for president again?

AM: My intention is not to run. I said that several times.

RT:So will the National Salvation Front unite around a candidate?

AM: It was not considered at all.

Egyptians protest against President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood as they join thousands at Egypt's landmark Tahrir square on June 30, 2013 in Cairo. (AFP Photo)

‘Egyptian politics needs young faces ‘ 

RT:In a run-up to the presidential elections, which Mohammed Morsi won, we saw a former regime figure in form of Ahmetsha Shafick defeated by Muslims Brotherhood Islamism figure Mohammed Morsi. Is this we are going to see in this elections in Egypt?

AM: The election will be free for all Egyptians. The final decision will be for the voter to decide.  The presidential elections and the circumstances, the personalities are still a bit far from today’s developments.  Perhaps, new persons will come to the fore. I personally believe that the time must be for the young people to move on and try those presidential elections.

RT:How are you going to include the youth in the future of Egypt politically?

AM: Including first of all in the government by the parties. Parties have to give young people an opportunity at top their lists and support them. The same for women. This is important. And next time we will see in a Parliamentary elections new faces, fresh faces, young faces. I hope, this will be seen also in presidential elections.  

RT:America has come on the fore recently for backing a Muslim brotherhood regime and also backing the Mubarak regime. You were foreign minister, you’ve dealt with the US a lot. Should Egypt withdraw its relationships with America?

AM: I continue to believe that we must have the best of relations with the US. Positive relations.  And, of course, it is two way traffic.  There’s no wisdom in being enemies to a country as important as the US. Why should we? But there must be also a clear policy on this. Sometimes we agree with the US, and we should be very clear, that we are agreeing on this point. If we disagree we must disagree and show people our reasons. We must have positive relations with America, based on solids ground. Security and stability of the Middle East is our best interest, not only their interest. 

RT:Back to politics. How have you been reaching out to the Muslim Brotherhood?

AM: It will be resolved. First by this process of conciliation. There's nothing, that would prevent me, or that prevent others to talk to each over from the Muslim Brotherhood from any other party. We differed with the way of government, the way of dealing with the people, when President Morsi was president. But now this is a party like all other parties and we should not exclude them. We should not ignore them, even if it is small.

RT:But what are you actually doing to reach out to the Muslim Brotherhood and also those who still support Morsi on the street? 

AM: It is not a question of dealing now, at this hour. This is a process and it will generate a lot of ways and means for contacts and talking, and it depends of them too. 

Muslim brotherhood members and ousted Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi supporters shout religious and political slogans while holding his portrait as thousands rally in his support at Raba Al Adaawyia mosque on July 4, 2013 in Cairo, Egypt. (AFP Photo)

RT:In this interim period we just going to have this chaotic violent battle between rival protesters on the streets?

AM: The interim is today, as it was yesterday. In this couple of days, that we have to deal with very serious situation and calm it down in order to open the way for all of us to talk together, including the Muslim Brotherhood.

RT:How are you going to talk to them? 

AM: By the way of politics and contacts and opposing each over and running for the same district in the elections. How to talk with “Muslim Brotherhood” as a block, as a party? I believe the best way is the table of conciliation.

‘The transitional period should not exceed a year’

RT:We are in a transitional period right now. People are saying this going to take from six months to two years, its a very long time.

AM: My opinion is that we need a short transitional period. The country cannot effort a long transitional period where you cannot workout long-term, medium-term plans. The country has been in transition since January 2011. So this time for us to accelerate a pace towards a stable government and a stable country with a constitution, parliament and government, that would stay for the duration of the parliament. The transitional period should not exceed a year.

RT:Egypt has been through transitional period before. Straight after the fall of Hosni Mubarak. We had no parliament, no president, no government, no constitution. How can we be sure, we will not buck strait to this situation again next year?

AM: Just to learn from our mistakes. What has been done in 2011 should not be done again in 2013. So we should start with this committee on the constitution and move on. There are a lot of mistakes that have been committed. And the time has come for us to know, that those mistakes should not be repeated.

RT:You talk about reconciliation, will you go down to pro-Morsi camps and talk to them about the situation?

AM: No, I’m not go, why should I? To the camp. But if I’m invited I will not hesitate of doing so. If I see necessity to do so – I will. I did that before, though I oppose them all the way.

RT:Isn’t this what Egypt needs for consolidation on the personal level between people? 

AM: Yes, indeed. But it’s not a question just going and talking. The ground should be prepared for that. It’s not just a show. We need to talk seriously, that now the regime has come to an end. It is a different ball game now. But they are in, they should be in, as a party and as a current in the political space and in the country as a whole.