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Presidential candidate Amr Moussa is noncommittal on the future role of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces, saying it is not the right time to discuss the future powers of the generals that have been running Egypt for the past 14 months.
In a press conference at his campaign headquarters in Dokki on Sunday, Moussa refused to answer many questions concerning the SCAF, seemingly unwilling to get on the bad side of what is widely believed to be the most powerful and influential political actor in the country right now.
Moussa uses his trademark diplomacy to evade questions that could have elicited criticism of the council, while he also attempted to lay the groundwork for a positive relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood, which holds the lion’s share of seats in parliament.
“We are not here to make big headlines, we are here for Egypt,” Moussa snapped at a reporter who asked about his opinion on a “safe exit” for SCAF, a suggestion by some political forces to give SCAF immunity against prosecution for its acts since it assumed power in February 2011.
“It is not in the best interest of the country or the next president to address this issue now,” he added.
Even after the election of a parliament, SCAF is still the strongest decision maker in the country. Many believe the general will attempt to maintain some amount of executive power after the election of a civilian president.
Moussa insisted that after the presidential elections “the president will be the boss,” but refused to discuss the details of the division of power between the president and the military council, saying that they would be worked out later.
Moussa does reserve a place for the military leaders as members of the National Security Council that he suggests in his platform. The council would include the president, the defense minister, and the intelligence chief among others, though his platform is vague on what the council will actually do.
In its year and a half in power, the SCAF has come under attack for its role in and responsibility of many incidents of violence in which civilians were killed.
Every time Moussa was asked a question relating to SCAF’s violations, he shifted the focus to the challenges Egypt will be facing in the next phase and said that these are the issues worth discussing.
After evading questions about the performance of SCAF repeatedly, Moussa finally answered saying that there have been mistakes but refused to elaborate.
“I don’t see the wisdom in discussing this now,” he said.
Moussa said that he would wait until the investigations reveal the truth about these incidents and leave the judgment of SCAF to history and to the next government.
Moussa was also vague regarding the inclusion of Islamists in his government if he wins the presidency.
With the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi parties occupying the biggest block in the parliament, Moussa asserted that he would follow a policy of non-confrontation and seek a cooperative relationship with Islamists.
“We have a certain majority of the Freedom and Justice Party in the parliament, and if elected, we will have a president from a different background, we have to cooperate,” says Moussa, referring to the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm.
While he said he would cooperate with the parliament to run a functional and smooth government, he seeks the upper hand in this cooperation. Moussa insists that a Presidential system that gives more power to the President, is more suitable for Egypt.
“The president is the president,” he says, adding that his role would be to lead all the other institutions in the country.
Moussa announced that he would appoint three vice presidents. He says he has thought of candidates but refused to disclose their identities. He would not confirm if any of these vice presidents will come from an Islamist background.
“My administration will be open to all Egyptians; I will feel free to ask the cooperation of whoever I feel is efficient and needed without hesitation. I will not close my door at all,” he said.
Moussa said that he wouldn’t accept to be vice President if he loses the elections.
“I have never been good at being second or third,” he declared.