Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, was featured on the Press TV News Analysis program to discuss the political situation in Egypt leading up to the national presidential elections. The program aired on April 28, 2012., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
‘Egypt’s political context getting volatile ahead of polls’
Interview with Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the international electronic press service Pan-African News Wire
Sun Apr 29, 2012 9:4AM GMT
It is a very vigorous political struggle that is going to take place over the next several days. The situation there (in Egypt) appears to be very volatile.
To watch this Press TV News Analysis interview with Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the international electronic press service Pan-African News Wire, just click on the URL below:
Political strife among Egyptian political factions as well as pressures from external forces is escalating as the country is getting closer to its first presidential election in the post-revolution era.
Egypt’s list of 13 presidential hopefuls includes Amr Moussa, the former regime’s longtime foreign minister and former Arab League chief.
Mohamed Morsi, head of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, Egypt’s most powerful political group, is also among the presidential contenders.
The polls are scheduled to be held in two rounds. The first would be held over two days on May 23 and 24 while a run-off, if necessary, would take place on June 16 and 17. Final results are expected on June 21.
Egypt's Supreme Council for Armed Forces (SCAF) took power in the aftermath of the last February revolution in Egypt that overthrew former dictator Hosni Mubarak’s Western-backed regime.
The SCAF promised to step down after a six-month period and hand over power to a civilian government, a pledge it has so far failed to fulfill.
The following is the transcript of Press TV’s interview with Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the international electronic press service Pan-African News Wire, about Egypt’s developments:
Press TV: I would like to make reference to those presidential candidates who have been qualified. We have, on the one hand, a former Mubarak regime official who has been qualified and then the political prisoners who were against the Mubarak regime that have not been qualified. So how likely is everything going to be free and fair in your perspective?
Abayomi Azikiwe: It appears to be a very vigorous debate going on inside Egypt right now leading up to this presidential election. We had the entry yesterday of Mr. Mohamed ElBaradei who has formed a new political party, the Constitution Party, and it appears that he is trying to present a viable alternative to the Islamists and the Salafists who are very active at this point.
Also we have to recognize that there is a tremendous amount of opposition to [former Prime Minister Ahmed] Shafiq and also [Mubarak’s then Foreign Minister] Amr Moussa, because of their connections with the Mubarak regime. So it is a very vigorous political struggle that is going to take place over the next several days.
The situation there appears to be very volatile. Yesterday we had the demonstrations that took place in several parts of the country. At the same time, the more radical secular elements would not participate in those demonstrations because they saw these actions as being exclusively in support of the Salafist candidates and also the other candidates of the Freedom and Justice Party inside Egypt.
So I think this is a very complicated situation going on and it is a very fluid state of affairs in Egypt. But it is very positive that people are given the opportunity to organize coalitions. It is a very interesting political atmosphere to observe because first of all there are many other variables involved. Egypt’s relations with Israel is going to be very important in light of the recent cancellation of the agreement for the supply of natural gas to Israel from Egypt and also the recent controversy involving Saudi Arabia, where there have been demonstrations outside the Saudi embassy.
The economic factors involving the international relationships between Saudi Arabia and Egypt, Israel and Egypt and also the United States is also going to be important in determining the coalitions and also the character of the upcoming government. These variables will impact the results of these elections that will take place next month.
Press TV: How likely do you think that foreign hands are involved in trying to make sure that there is a certain amount of chaos on the ground in Egypt?
Abayomi Azikiwe: Well we know that the United States government is very much concerned about the political future of Egypt and there is a lot of stake. The US has a lot of investments in Egypt in regard to the military apparatus there.
We also have to look at the economic status of the military in Egypt. They play a very important role in the political economy of the country and I do not think that the military officials are going to cede total authority to any civilian government without a protracted struggle that is waged by a broad coalition of forces inside Egypt itself.
Then of course we have to look at the role of Saudi Arabia and the [Persian] Gulf states which are watching the situation very closely as well, because they themselves, being mon archical regimes, are very much opposed to any type of popular mass movement that may arise in those states themselves.
They prefer to see a situation in Egypt where there is no genuine democracy at a grass-roots level. It is definitely a political threat to Saudi Arabia and the other states in the [Persian] Gulf. So I think definitely, the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia are very much concerned and are watching and trying to influence the developments that are going on inside Egypt itself.
That is why we are seeing this hostility that appears to be directed towards a human rights attorney from Egypt who was convicted in absentia in Saudi Arabia over the apparent insult to the Saudi monarchy. I think this is clearly related to the concern of the Saudi monarchy in regard to the developments inside Egypt.
So I definitely believe that external forces are going to continue to try to influence the political direction of the elections and also the alliances that are constantly changing and re-shaping inside Egypt.