Al-Ahram: Today, the Administrative Court considers the invalidity of the Constituent Assembly (CA) entrusted with writing Egypt’s new national charter, after the case was brought forward from its original September date to July. What does this acceleration in the case mean, if anything?
Erian: Without a doubt, accelerating consideration of the case has caused grave concerns among all segments of society in Egypt. If the decision were to dismiss the case, there would be no reason to bring the date forward.
Hence there are many fears, just as there are many secrets that will be revealed shortly, such as the secrets of the Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) ruling. People have become aware of the reality where there are ready, pre-determined rulings and verdicts.
That is why a case is so accelerated when it would traditionally take years to settle. Overall the evidence says that something hidden and hideous is being plotted against the CA and against the Constitution. Soon, all the secrets will be revealed.
Al-Ahram: With regard to that sinister plot against the CA, as you say, what will you do, now that you are responsible for the majority party?
Erian: I have asked everyone to carry their own responsibility and do their own duty before God and the people. After parliament was democratically elected, it has been severely disrupted, as if someone wants to undermine freely elected institutions.
Generally, I assure everyone that there are four institutions that must be above politics: the armed forces, the police, the intelligence service, and the judiciary. Individuals belonging to judicial bodies may have their political leanings, but should not be under the control of anyone.
Al-Ahram: Some say that if a new CA is formed, it will be ignored, and the current one will continue its work to write a new constitution. Is it possible we’ll see a constitution authored by the second CA, and another by the existing assembly and perhaps another by a third CA, or even a ready-made constitution from someone’s drawer somewhere?
Erian: The people will have the last word on that. I think Egyptians would vote "Yes" to any constitution that is written with complete transparency and integrity. By contrast, they will give a resounding "No" to any constitution anyone may seek to impose on them, whatever the challenges, nor will they accept a constitution from anyone’s drawer.
Everyone should rest assured that conspiracies against the parliament will eventually fail – completely, a fate that will also be shared by conspiracies against the CA, the constitution and the President himself.
Al-Ahram: Is there intransigence on the part of judges in the SCC’s ruling to dissolve the People’s Assembly (PA)?
Erian: Yes, most clearly, as many observers have said. The PA case is heavily politicized. The ruling affects only one-third of the PA membership. Egyptians have been totally frustrated after the dissolution of the first democratically elected institution.
Al-Ahram: What truth is there in the story about a CA ready to take over, hand-picked by Mubarak cronies?
Erian: The truth is that Major General Mamdouh Shahin called me two days ago and denied a newspaper report of remarks attributed to him to the effect that the ruling to dissolve the CA is ready in a drawer. I was pleased with that reassuring call, rejecting as false those reports.
The current CA is operating efficiently and diligently. Undermining this assembly under any pretexts is a definite disruption of the march of the Egyptian people towards democracy.
Al-Ahram: In one of your statements, you said the president was under pressure to nominate a woman, a Coptic and a young individual in the Presidential institution, while some criticized that idea of quotas.
Erian: Certain people want to impose their advice on the President; but he will employ in the Presidential institution individuals from across Egypt’s political spectrum. Vice-Presidents will be politicians; and they will be selected according to political criteria. Meanwhile, consultants will be persons with experience and expertise in all fields, and so on. This is not a quota approach.
Al-Ahram: The Muslim Brotherhood and the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) discussed issuing a new constitutional declaration and abolishing the military council (SCAF)’s supplementary declaration. It is also said that there is pressure on President Mohamed Morsi to issue such a new declaration.
Erian: We discussed only the old, original Constitutional Declaration, not a new one. The President does not accept any pressure from any party, and acts according to the dictates of his conscience. This is good for Egypt.
Hence, I appeal to all honorable patriotic citizens to banish illusions of distribution of spoils, and to realize that they must give their best advice to the President, without pressure, and that they must stand by him, even if he does not take their advice. Ultimately, he is the decision-maker, responsible for his decisions and actions, constitutionally and legally.
Al-Ahram: Do you support the idea of a new constitutional declaration?
Erian: This depends on the President's vision, since – as I said – he is ultimately the decision-maker. We, at the FJP, discussed SCAF’s restrictive constitutional declaration, which has damaged political life and fettered the whole country in the critical transitional period, with three main, calamitous objectives:
First, sacking the elected legislative institution. Second, keeping SCAF’s hold onto power, as individuals not an institution. And third, abolishing the country’s people-ratified Constitution and imposing a specially-tailored alternative charter.
We must therefore address these matters with all methods of public pressure and legal action. Those who refrained from imposing Ahmed Shafiq on the nation through election fraud should know that the people will rise again in powerful revolution, if their will is violated or overturned.
The revolution will continue to establish this new constitutional state, and accomplish the rest of its goals. The people must realize that they have to continue the march of the revolution.
Al-Ahram: After the Court of Cassation issues its verdict, what is the position of the PA?
Erian: The ruling in the PA case is certainly political rather than judicial, whereas it should be above politics. It is a decision that crushes and eliminates the will of the people. This whole situation is currently the subject of political debate and dialogue with all parties.
Political dialogue is the way out of the PA crisis now. Those who throw the ball into the judiciary’s court now, in fact, abuse the judicial system.
Al-Ahram: In fresh parliamentary elections, do you think your party would still win a majority? Or do you sense the FJP has lost popularity?
Erian: There’s no doubt that political parties’ popularity constantly change – it can go up or down. The real gauge of a party’s popularity is the ballot box.
With regard to the first post-revolution PA’s performance, it is clear that for the first time in its history, it made laws actually on behalf of the people, for the people, such as the laws enacted by the PA in favor of female-headed households, for the minimum and maximum wages, for high school, and especially the modifications to the law of the presidential elections to announce results to the media, so all the people know them even before the final official announcement.
Al-Ahram: But didn’t Brotherhood MPs make certain mistakes?
Erian: We were wrong to focus only on our duties within the PA, getting too preoccupied in parliamentary sessions – three every week – which gave us no chance to be among the people.
Al-Ahram: But you were in the street, among the people, before the revolution. What happened, then?
Erian: Before the revolution, we used to have PA sessions in one week, and then a week without any sessions and so on.
Thus we had time to go down to the people. Now, we are in a revolutionary situation. We realize the mistake of distancing MPs from the people. It is a mistake that will not be repeated again.
Al-Ahram: It is reported that there had been certain communications between the Brotherhood and the Americans before the visit of Hillary Clinton, the U.S. Secretary of State, to agree to grant Christians a share in the provinces, to recognize the Baha'i faith and to establish a U.S. base in the Suez Canal area, amongst other issues. Are these new dictates?
Erian: I heard and read about this visit, but did not actually meet with Mrs. Clinton, nor did I have any communications of any kind with her. In any case, the era of dictates is certainly over, now.
In the FJP’s Foreign Relations Committee, we had more than 200 visits from officials of countries of the whole world, where we always impressed on foreign governments their historic responsibility, affirming that democratic change in Egypt means greater stability and security for the entire region.
Al-Ahram: How do you explain the protests against the American officials’ visit and the rumors or reports about a deal between the Brotherhood and the Americans?
Erian: Those now protesting are America's former friends. Instead of protesting, they should work in the Egyptian street. In any event, it is the destiny of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamists in general to be in the forefront of the political action scene now. Meanwhile, success of the revolution will be a historic shift.
Al-Ahram: How many ministerial portfolios will the FJP get in the new government?
Erian: The new cabinet will be a technocrat government, with priority focused on efficiency and competence and not on people’s affiliations. The FJP will partake in the share allocated by the President for all political parties. We have no pre-determined quota that we should get.
Al-Ahram: Finally, Dr. Erian, will you be the new Chairman of the FJP, Egypt’s Vice-President, or Deputy Prime Minister?
Erian: I have not asked anything for myself. But if I’m tasked with any duty or responsibility, I will do it to the best of my ability.