Egypt working to reassure world of democratic aspirations

15th July 2013, Comments 0 comments

Egyptian diplomats are working hard to reassure the world their country is still on the road to democracy despite the army's ouster of president Mohamed Morsi, a top representative said Monday.

"What we are trying is definitely to send a message of reassurance ... that we are on the democratic way," Egyptian ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva Wafaa Bassim told reporters.

Bassim herself has been making the rounds to her international colleagues in Geneva, and said other ambassadors around the world were doing the same in a bid "to explain the situation, to calm their concern, to answer their questions".

A key part of that message is that Egypt did not undergo a coup when the military toppled Morsi, the country's first freely elected president, on July 3 following massive protests calling for his ouster.

"It's a popular impeachment where the army sided with the people," Bassim said, also describing the event as a "corrective intervention", "a popular uprising" and "a second revolution".

During his single year of turbulent rule, Morsi was accused of concentrating power in the hands of his Muslim Brotherhood, sending the economy into free-fall and failing to protect minorities.

Bassim, a career diplomat with 35 years under her belt, rejected Morsi supporters' charge that his overthrow was an affront to democracy, pointing out that the people and the army had pushed for early elections, to no avail.

Waiting for the next scheduled elections "would have meant, for the people, to wait another three years, and they couldn't take it anymore," she said.

Democracy, she insisted, is not only about "results of the polls. It's what you do with these results."

Bassim said she understood the international concern, but stressed the army's "totally apolitical" role in the process and the aim to have democratic parliamentary and presidential elections as well as a referendum on a new constitution all within the next eight to nine months.

The new interim government would likely be sworn in within a few days, she said.

She also emphasised that everyone, including the Muslim Brotherhood, would be included in the political process.

"If they don't want to participate now, they will participate in the future. It's in their interest," Bassim said, adding that Brotherhood "represents an important faction of the political currents in Egypt. They are not a group to be ignored."

© 2013 AFP

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