Egypt’s interim premier says security a priority

Egypt’s interim premier says security a priority

Hazem el-Beblawi says a clear political process is needed to regain stability in the country

Egyptian interim Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi speaking to ABC News (photo credit: YouTube screen capture)
Egyptian interim Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi speaking to ABC News (photo credit: YouTube screen capture)

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt’s interim prime minister said Saturday his government is putting priority on increasing security to restore peace and improve the country’s economy after new unrest following the coup that toppled the country’s president.

Hazem el-Beblawi also told reporters that a clear political process is needed to reassure the country’s international allies concerned about Egypt’s continued instability.

President Mohammed Morsi was ousted in a July 3 military coup that followed four days of mass demonstrations calling on the Islamist leader to step down. Since his ouster, Morsi supporters have kept up their protests, and authorities moved in to break-up two of their sit-ins, leading to clashes causing hundreds of deaths.

On Saturday, el-Beblawi said he lamented the violence but promised that the government was determined to deal firmly with any attempts to create chaos.

“We are sorry for the number of injured, … we all feel it is a great loss,” he said. “But if the price is that people don’t feel secure… we won’t accept that.”

El-Beblawi also acknowledged that providing security alone is not enough, saying the country “must go down the political path” to work out its democratic transition and find reconciliation. However, he said no one who used violence would be allowed to participate.

Authorities have accused Morsi supporters of starting violence and carrying out attacks against churches and government buildings. Morsi supporters deny their protests are violent, accusing authorities of smearing their movement.

“Those who don’t accept the principles of no use of violence, no religion in politics, no attacks against minorities and no discrimination” should be excluded, el-Beblawi said.

A military-backed timetable calls for the country’s constitution to be amended and parliamentary and presidential elections to be held early next year.

El-Beblawi also dismissed accusations that the release Thursday of jailed autocrat Hosni Mubarak was a return to Egypt’s old political order. He said Mubarak’s release was in accordance with the law.

Mubarak was released following an appeal from his lawyers and is now under house arrest pending a trial that reconvenes Sunday. His release raised tensions in a country already roiled by instability following the coup against Morsi.

El-Beblawi’s comments came a day after Morsi supporters organized new protests. The marches were smaller than usual and remained largely peaceful, though a few clashes broke out, killing two people.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press

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