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‘Egypt still on path to democracy’: Foreign Minister Nabeel Fahmi

Fahmi chides Western allies for their sharp criticism of government force

Gulf News

Berlin: Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabeel Fahmi insisted the interim government had not abandoned the path to democracy amid a deadly crackdown on opponents, in an interview to be published Monday.

Fahmi, a former ambassador to the United States, told German news weekly Der Spiegel that Egypt’s military leaders were unlikely to extend a month-long nationwide state of emergency imposed last week.

“I assure our friends that we are maintaining our roadmap to democracy,” he said. He said Egyptians “would not accept the country staying under the now-imposed state of emergency in the long run.” And he said the Muslim Brotherhood backers of ousted Islamist president Mohammad Mursi were welcome to a dialogue on Egypt’s political future “as soon as calm and order have been restored”. “Those who have not broken the law can take part in the political process,” he said.

Fahmi chided Western allies for their sharp criticism of government force against pro-Mursi demonstrators, which has left hundreds dead.

“I am disappointed that the violence by the other side has not been more clearly recognised and condemned by the West,” he said. He discouraged direct intervention in the conflict by the US or the European Union. “This is an Egyptian problem that we must solve,” he said.

“I trust the military, I am sure that the officers are not fixated on power.”

The death toll in four days of violence topped 750 in Egypt in clashes following massive operations by the army-led government against Mursi supporters. Struggling to stamp its authority amid unfolding events, the country’s new rulers have upped the rhetoric, saying the Arab world’s most populous nation is at war with terrorism.

Blaming a defiant Brotherhood for the bloodshed, Egyptian Prime Minister Hazeem Al Beblawi proposed dissolving the group in a move that would force it underground and could usher in mass arrests of its members countrywide.

The government said it was studying the possibility. “There will be no reconciliation with those whose hands have been stained with blood and who turned weapons against the state and its institutions,” Beblawi told reporters.

However, Egypt’s deputy prime minister was to propose a way out of a bloody confrontation between the security forces and the Brotherhood when the cabinet discusses the crisis on Sunday.

The initiative by Deputy Prime Minister Ziad Bahaa Al Din, a liberal, calls for an immediate end to the state of emergency, political participation for all parties and guarantees of human rights, including the right to free assembly.

The Brotherhood has said it will keep up mass protests until Mursi, toppled by the army on July 3 after huge demonstrations against him, is freed from jail and returned to office. Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood called for protests Sunday in front of Cairo’s Supreme Constitutional Court.