Wednesday, 16 February 2011

The latest from the military council ruling Egypt

Here are some generally reassuring remarks by members of the ruling military council, published in the state newspaper al-Ahram on Wednesday. The council, as part of an attempt to reach out to the public, spoke to the editors of all Egyptian newspapers - state, private and opposition party. By the way, I stopped buying al-Ahram about a year ago because it was no longer worth reading most of the time. Now it's changed 180 degrees, but I suppose that's what state papers do when there's a sudden change at the top. After dismissing the protest movement for many days, the banner headline on Feb. 12 was "The people overthrow the regime". The remarks by the military are either a clever deception or evidence of a surprising openmindedness, probably the latter. I give them raw for lack of time:
    Citizens have the right to get angry, rebel and work to overthrow the regime, but no one has the right to try to bring down the state. The armed forces are not seeking power and do not wish to stay in power. They are fully aware that the current situation imposed itself on them against their will.
    We are trying hard to finish our task before six months are up, so that our term of work does not exceed that period.
    The supreme council hopes to finish its mission and hand the state over to a president who is elected properly and freely in a way that expresses the inclinations of the people and to an elected legislative and executive authority properly elected by the people, so that we have a democratic republic.
     For such a process to succeed, there must be a calm atmosphere. The current atmosphere of unrest, strikes and disturbances does not help in reaching that objective.
    The Youth Revolution was clean and all its demands were natural, but now everyone everywhere is looking for a role. Thugs, highwaymen and  thieves are looking for a role, and that is an obstacle to progress.
    Every sector has the right to claim whatever it sees due, but this is not the right time for that, though they do have the right to make their demands.
    The economic situation is difficult and the daily losses as a result of disruptions to business are dissipating our resources and will lead to economic collapse if they continue, so we cannot meet the demands of citizens who see their demands as a right.
    It is important that people confine themselves to accusations announced by the public prosecutor, because giving the impression that everyone is a thief has a demoralising effect, and we are at a delicate stage during which the people's morale must be maintained.
    There are strict controls over the movement of private planes, and steps to prevent people smuggling money abroad.
    We do not have a magic wand to eliminate corruption, but we will not allow any new corruption. Ninety perecent of what has been published about corruption in the old regime is not true.
    All citizens hope the police force will get back to work and everyone is suffering greatly from the absence of the police. The armed forces cannot stop houses being burgled because tanks cannot be used for that purpose. The neighbourhood watch groups cannot prevent thuggery, so everyone must support the return of the police.
    Before January 25 we had supporters and opponents of the regime. Now there is no longer a regime to either support or oppose.
    Everyone must understand that former president Mubarak is gone and we must not come out and revile him in public or make up stories about a man who has a history of military and civilian achievements and who had a great role, and who also made mistakes.
    The president gave up power and saved the country from a disaster the extent of which only God knows. If he had not done so, disaster would have struck and people would have killed each other. He should be given credit for giving up power and for staying in Egypt.

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