By Dr Heba Elmarassi
I HAD just assumed my post almost over a month ago as Ambassador Designate of Egypt to Cyprus, when my country, the biggest and most populous Arab country, witnessed a turning point in its modern history as millions of Egyptians proved once again that they can take matters into their own hands and change their destiny to the better with the popular uprising that has been ignited on June 30th, 2013 having a sole aim of adherence to the goals of the January 25th, 2011 revolution. It was probably one of the largest political demonstrations ever organized by mankind.
In view of an extremely tense and fluid situation that Egypt has been witnessing for a year during which almost all of the state institutions were not functioning properly, and in the absence of any positive political horizon for a better and reconciled Egypt with itself, the armed forces could not stand still to the calls of tens of millions of Egyptians, and took it as its main responsibility to save the country from bloodshed, and hence consulted with different political and religious leaders of the country, after which a consensual statement was issued on July 3rd, 2013 encompassing a ROAD MAP echoing the people’s demands with no political role whatsoever to the army. The Road Map announced on July 3rd, 2013 by Egypt’s Interim President, Chief Justice Adly Mansour includes a constitution drafting process (3–4 months), parliamentary elections which will be held under international supervision (4– 5 months) to be followed by presidential elections (6- 8 months).
Undoubtedly all Egyptians agree that although many of the latest protests were violent and provocative, the recent loss of lives of demonstrators during the last three weeks is very unfortunate and regrettable, but one should still take into account the context in which these incidents have occurred. Foreign Minister of Egypt Mr. Nabil Fahmy made it clear that the Muslim Brotherhood should be part of Egypt’s political future but must denounce at the same time inciting violence. They have a clear choice. They can be part of the solution or cause of the problem. With this in mind, national reconciliation is a top priority on the Interim Government’s agenda, and a commission stipulated in the July 8th Constitutional Declaration had already held its first session, with a vision to move Egypt forward in an orderly transition back to INCLUSIVE democratic politics within a period of nine months with absolutely no exclusion of any political force.
I find it imperative to reiterate that we are unshakable in such juncture in our resolve to create an environment that embodies a modern, civil and democratic society, one that respects the rule of law and the multi-party system, one that certainly does not discriminate on the basis of gender, race or belief. We know that we have serious challenges ahead of us; some of them I fear will be serious tests to our real commitment to democracy. However, I am confident of one thing; with Egypt’s rich history and the perseverance of its people, Egypt will once again navigate its region smoothly towards a democratic transformation process in the 21st century, exactly as it did lead the region to renaissance in the 19th century and once again to its liberation from foreign occupation in the 20th century.
We have our hands stretched out in friendship to all peoples of the world, and we shall never forget the responsible and solidarity positions shown by the Government and people of Cyprus to support the legitimate demands of Egyptians for freedom, dignity and social justice.
Dr Heba Elmarassi is Ambassador Designate of the Arab Republic of Egypt to Cyprus