Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi took the TV tonight, appearing on Egyptian National Television. He called for dialogue, saying he was engaged with members of the opposition – without mentioning which groups – for an initiative aimed at resolving the current political crisis. But reiterated that he will not step down no matter what the people or the military demand.
Taking a page out of the Obama playbook, he blamed the ousted Mubarak regime for most of Egypt’s ills, which he said had led to a degree of anger among the opposition, Morsi repeatedly stated that he would safeguard the “legitimacy” of the democratic process that brought him to office one year ago.
“I will protect [democratic] legitimacy with my life,” the president asserted firmly.
Morsi said he will form a new government, hastening the passage of parliamentary elections laws so as to hold elections within six months, form a committee to review proposed constitutional amendments, resolving disagreements over Egypt’s prosecutor-general, and promoting the inclusion of youth in government.
“We have to prove to the world that we are capable of democracy…peacefully, we protect [democratic] legitimacy…legitimacy is our only safeguard from future faults….I do not accept anyone saying anything or taking any steps against legitimacy; this is completely out of the question,” Morsi said.
Morsi also mentioned that upcoming parliamentary elections would usher in a new government that would yield greater authority than that of the president. He also said he was willing to “turn a new page” with the media, which he had previously accused of bias.
The president also stressed his rejection of any internal or external “directives.”
In his Tuesday night speech, Morsi hailed Egypt’s “powerful” armed forces, warning against any attacks against it, whether verbal or physical. He also rejected domestic calls for “jihad,” saying that holy war should be reserved for fighting foreign enemies, not fellow Egyptians.
“Violence and bloodshed are a trap; if we fall into it, it will be the end of us all,” he said.
Political tensions have soared in Egypt since millions of opposition protesters flocked to squares across Egypt on Sunday to call for snap presidential polls.
Truth is Morsi made similar mistakes to Obama. Many Egyptians feel that instead of tackling the economy, Morsi spent much of his first year on his own priorities. In the Egyptians case it was gently trying to move Egypt from a secular to Sharia-based state.
Many of Morsi’s first actions were to replace military officers with his Muslim Brotherhood supporters which did not earn him many friends in the military establishment. That said, the Egyptian military does not want to rule…they want calm.