Aswat Masriya (Cairo)

25 February 2013

Egypt: Khaled Ali Criticizes Govt's Lack of Transparency

Former presidential candidate and human rights lawyer, Khaled Ali, criticized the lack of transparency in the negotiations of reconciliation between the Egyptian government and businessmen accused of corruption and graft.

In an interview with Aswat Masriya, Khaled Ali said that the so called reconciliation is in fact a whitewash.

"Reconciliations should take place in complete transparency," he said commenting on the government's plan to accept half the amount of the smuggled money that some businessmen are being tried for in exchange for dropping the charges, "This is not reconciliation...this is a cover up for corruption, thus it is corrupt."

Government officials and the ruling Muslim Brotherhood have announced negotiations with fugitive convicted businessmen and former officials in the era of the ouster president Hosni Mubarak to settle corruption charges for an undetermined sum of money.

The government claims that such reconciliations are essential to reassure businessmen on the investment atmosphere in Egypt.

Egypt's economy has suffered a collapse since the toppling of Mubarak two years ago.

Ali criticized a legal amendment approved by the government lat week, by virtue of which the reconciliation with the fugitive businessmen is a possibility. He said that this step is a message from the Muslim Brotherhood to the west that their government is part of the neoliberal policies.

He added that it also sends a message to the international community that corruption is still ongoing in Egypt, saying, "Corrupt regimes only bring about corrupt businessmen."

The former presidential candidate said the Brotherhood's policies are a reproduction of the policies of the ousted regime, violating the right of citizens to knowledge.

Ali said that the courts have annulled many of the privatization contracts signed prior to the uprising, explaining that the property of three companies is back to the public sector.

"Our role as citizens and humanists is to confront the corruption that occurred in the privatization process," Ali said

Commenting on the government's reluctance to re-run the companies restored to the public sector, he said, "It only reveals the government's bias against the public sector."

Ali considers the government's insistence upon receiving a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is but walking in the same path as Mubarak's regime.

He has filed a lawsuit to demand that the government announce the details of the IMF agreement.

The human rights lawyer said President Mohamed Mursi does not offer any new solutions to Egypt's economic problems.

He added that the assaults and accusations that the workers in Alexandria are subjected to sheds the light on the government's bias towards the interest of businessmen.

The security forces have dispersed by force a workers sit-in in a factory in Alexandria and detained dozens of workers, accusing them of holding hostages.

The police have also arrested workers for holding a strike in another factory in Alexandria.

"There is a message to the working class in the most recent attack on the workers in Alexandria; either you accept being used and violence or you are faced with prison and defamation," Khaled Ali said.

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