3 August 2013

Egypt: ElBaradei Hopes for Reconciliation in Egypt

In an interview with US newspaper Washington Post, Egypt's Vice President for Foreign Affairs hoped that a national reconciliation could be achieved in Egypt.

Asked about possibility of crackdown by army against pro-Morsi protesters camped out in the Rabaa Al Adawiya Square in Cairo's Nasr City, he answered, "That is exactly what we want to avoid.

"Being harsh is not a solution. Understanding what we need to do and how you achieve social inclusion and political stability is more important. We want to go into more acceptance of diversity of different views. That's the only way to achieve stability. What we need to do right now number one, of course, is to make sure that we stop the violence," he said.

El-Baradei underscored the importance of dialogue as the only way to get out of the ongoing current political crisis.

"Once we do that, we immediately have to go into a dialogue to ensure that the Brotherhood understand that Morsi failed. But that does not mean that the Brotherhood should be excluded in any way," he added.

"They should continue to be part of the political process; they should continue to participate in the rewriting of the constitution, in running for parliamentary and presidential elections. You have the tea party, and you have the American Civil Liberties Union. There is a big, wide gap, but they are able to live together under the Constitution."

Baradei expressed regret that Egypt does not have a process of recall or impeachment like the US has.

"It was a popular uprising rejecting Mors's continuing in power," he said.

Unfortunately, people had to call on the army to intervene. The army had to intervene, otherwise, we would have ended up in a civil war," Baradei said.

He pointed out that people went to the streets on the 30th of June and were not psychologically ready to go home until Morsi left office. It would have been ideal for Morsi to resign, but he did not, he added.

Baradei dismissed claims that what happened was a military coup, asserting "When you have 20 million people calling on Morsi to leave, and the army had to step in to avoid a civil war, does that make it a coup d'état? Of course not," he said.

"It is not a classical army intervention. The army, in fact, moved in to support to a popular uprising. It was no different than what happened during the 25th January revolution, except this time the army is facing the Brotherhood and Salafists and not Mubarak," El-Baradei said.

He stressed that nobody wants to see the army back. "The army itself understands that they cannot govern, they are unable to govern, and people do not want them to govern," he elaborated.

"This is a country with a lot of anger and irrational feelings, and we need to cool things down. The army has a role to play in protecting national security.

But we the people need to make sure this is a transition to move towards democracy," he said, adding that we need to make that transition right this time. "As you remember, from day one I thought we were heading in the wrong direction because we did not have a constitution at the beginning," he added.

Asked about if he would run for presidency, Baradei denied he intends to do so. "My role will be completed when I put the country on the right track. I will do everything in my power in this regard.

"I would like to continue to be a coach, rather than an active player, after we move through the transition period," he said.

Baradei asserted that the authority is holding Morsi in a safe place to protect him, adding they could study ways of safe exit for Muslim Brotherhood leaders who are not involved in serious crimes.

European Union representative Catherine Ashton went to see Morsi, and she said he is in good health," he added.

Baradei was asked about the reconciliation approach adopted by South African leader Nilson Mandilla and possibility of applying it in Egypt, Baradei answered: "Forget and forgiveness is what I would opt for. I am not running the country, but I would definitely argue for forgiveness once we move forward. Tolerance in South Africa is a perfect example."

"If they are not very serious, I would like to see a possible pardon as a part of a grand package, because the fate of the country is much more important," he added.

Concerning Egypt's relations with Israel he pointed out that we need to make sure that there is really a real peace with the Israelis. They have an opportunity, frankly, right now. In the past, they had peace with Mubarak, not with the Egyptians. Now is an opportunity for them, and I hope they grab that opportunity to have a peace with the Egyptians. But that requires that they make certain major adjustments to their policy with the Palestinians," Baradei said.

He touched on recent Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, brokered by US, and expressed his optimism towards these talks as long as they are based on a two-state solution and all the basic pillars that former US president Bill Clinton outlined in the last week of his presidency.

Once we get that, I think the road is open for normalization of relations with the Israelis and for a comprehensive peace in the region."

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