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Qandil speaks to the US

Premier talks about constitution and situation on the ground


Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Qandil. (AFP PHOTO / GIANLUIGI GUERCIA)
Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Qandil said during an interview that he worried for the safety of the people. (AFP PHOTO / GIANLUIGI GUERCIA)

Prime Minister Hesham Qandil has called the draft constitution, “good enough… in no way a perfect text.”

In an interview broadcast on American news network CNN he attributed the recent turmoil in Egypt to what he called a typical reaction before an important political milestone when, “people from both sides will want to have their voices heard.”

While the prime minister said he was worried for people’s safety, he also stated, “this is new Egypt where the police protect the people while they are doing peaceful demonstrations.”

This is not something that sat well with Asma Al-Gredley who has volunteered in makeshift hospitals during clashes in Downtown Cairo. “I saw my friend Gaber [Saleh Gaber] get killed by police fire.”

When asked about the trepidation that has been caused by President Mohamed Morsy’s constitutional declaration, Qandil said not to worry because the president’s new powers “will fall immediately after the referendum.”

Ahmed Khairy, the spokesperson for the Free Egyptian Party, said, “with all due respect to Prime Minister Hesham Qandil, we disagree. The president now has a full authority. He has legislative authority, executive authority, and at the same time the judiciary is now totally frozen. I don’t know how he got an idea that there is no problem.”

While Qandil made sure to point out that the future of Egypt is now in the hands of the voters, Khairy countered by saying that Egyptians have been put between a rock and a hard place. “It’s a dirty game. They put the Egyptian people between two choices: accept the draft or accept the constitutional declaration. When Morsy says all the time that there is no problem with his power because it will just be a few weeks, he operates under the assumption that the constitution will pass. What if the people refuse? What will happen? This is a very important question.”

The CNN interview was conducted by Christiane Amanpour, an Iranian-British anchor who has made a career reporting on the Muslim world. Throughout the interview she aggressively went after the prime minister, at one point posing the question, “what about people who are afraid that this is a masquerade for Islamism to rule Egypt?”

Qandil responded that Al-Azhar, a seat of Islamic learning in Cairo, will merely serve in a “consultative role.” When pressed, Qandil was not able to clearly define what that role would entail.

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