By Tamim Elyan
CAIRO: Clashes in Tahrir on Wednesday were a conspiracy and those responsible will be punished, Vice President Omar Suleiman said Thursday in an interview with state TV.
“There are groups inside and outside Egypt, from foreign countries to the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) to businessmen with agendas, that want to take advantage of the youth’s revolution and give it a bad outlook,” Suleiman said.
Suleiman claims to have met with representatives from the youth and said that the protesters’ legitimate demands will be implemented according to a schedule. He also called on all political powers to engage in a dialogue with the regime to plan the execution of reforms within the limited period of time available.
Calls for the president to step down are calls for chaos and are “un-Egyptian,” he said. The president will leave at the end of his term and none of his family will run in the elections including his son Gamal, he added.
“We thank the Egyptian youth for what they did and I hope that they get the message that the state is serious and committed to implementing their demands,” Suleiman said.
“We want you to return to your homes and give the state a chance to perform its role because the continuation of the sit-in is paralyzing the state and is serving foreign and domestic agendas,” he added.
According to Suleiman, various economic sectors lost more than third of their revenues. About $1 billion were lost in the tourism sector after one million tourists left Egypt over the past nine days, he said.
Suleiman said the government could have accepted more demands if it wasn’t for the limited time. He said there are only 200 days left before the presidential elections to implement the constitutional reforms requested which he said will take time.
“The president called for the suspension of both parliament houses’ sessions until the challenges against the legitimacy of its members are reviewed, which would take three weeks, and then the constitutional reforms would take 70 days at least,” he explained.
If parliament were to be dissolved, the demanded constitutional reforms would be unattainable until new legislative elections take place which will take time given the geographical characteristics of Egypt and the inability of the police to participate in the process now, he added.
Suleiman said that he has invited all political parties and opposition figures including the Muslim Brotherhood and has already started dialogue with some of them; however, Al-Wafd and Al-Tagammu parties asked for more time and the MB is still hesitant.
He said committees would be formed to study various problems and suggest solutions which would be then implemented according to a schedule.
Suleiman said the pro-Mubarak demonstrations on Wednesday were spontaneous and weren’t organized by the regime, distancing himself from those who clashed with the pro-democracy protesters in Tahrir.
An investigation will be launched to find who’s responsible and who started the clashes, he said. Those responsible will be punished, he added.
“We will also investigate those responsible of the absence of police which caused this crisis and will be punished regardless of their status,” he said.
He explained that the current cabinet was formed in emergency conditions and in a very limited time and that it comprises professionals not businessmen like its predecessor.
“This is only an emergency government that will lead the country until the presidential elections take place in September,” Suleiman said.
Suleiman criticized the interference of some “friendly states” in the internal affairs of Egypt and said it was “unacceptable and won’t be allowed.”
“Egypt is an important country and it is understandable that other countries would be concerned with the events but some practices were abnormal by friendly states that tried to interfere with Egyptian internal affairs,” Solieman said.
He also criticized satellite channels from friendly states that aired “false allegations and exaggerated the events.”