Sabbahi to ‘amend’ protest law if president
Hamdeen Sabbahi - YOUM7/Maher Iskandar

CAIRO: Presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi said Saturday that if he became president, he would amend the 2013 protest law to “regulate” protest “not restrict it.”

“I would not revoke the protest law if I became president, but I rather would send it to the National Council for Human Rights for amendment to regulate protesting and not restrict it,” Sabbahi told The Cairo Post.

Sabbahi said granting immunity to the Supreme Electoral Committee would not influence his decision whether or not to run for president, although possible “state bias” could be concealed by the immunity.

He added that this immunity is reminiscent of the immunity that ousted President Mohamed Morsi granted to his decrees in a constitutional declaration.

Being a Nasserite himself, Sabbahi said it makes him happy that some people liken Minister of Defense Abdel Fatah al-Sisi to late President Gamal Abdel Nasser, because it means the two of them would have “common beliefs.”

However, Sabbahi added, Sisi is also a minister in the interim government, which has not followed democratic rules by detaining revolutionaries, so he is “implicitly responsible” and that gives voters an impression whether or not he would protect democracy, Sabbahi said on the online program Youm7 Hangouts Saturday evening.

Commenting on ministers who failed to revolutionize their ministries in Hazem al-Beblawy’s Cabinet, Sabbahi said that no matter how much a minister or a state official wants to make a change, they still function in the framework of a political will. “That is why I am running for president, because I want to change the political will,” he added.

“I am running for president because I believe in emerging victorious if it was conducted with integrity. I believe I would win the votes of the people who dream of democracy, human rights and social justice. I am the closest candidate to the youth who represents the majority of voters because I believe in them,” Sabbahi said.

There is openness in the Egyptians foreign policy towards Russia, not as an alternative towards the United States but rather on grounds of shared interests, Sabbahi told The Cairo Post.

U.S. policy towards Egypt has never been fair at any point in time because of its complete bias in favor of Israel, Sabbahi said, adding that the U.S.’s  support is conditional on protecting the security of Israel.

“The U.S. treats the Arab world as a source of oil and as a market.  As a president, I would seek win-win relations with the U.S. because Egypt benefits far less than the U.S. from their relations,” Sabbahi told The Cairo Post.

Egypt’s foreign relations should be based on the idea that the world is no longer unipolar, Sabbahi said on Youm7 Hangouts.

He named six countries that Egypt should seek friendly relations with in the coming period, namely Russia, the United States, South Africa, China, India and Brazil.

Creating healthy relations with these countries depends on Egypt reestablishing itself in the heart of the Arab world, Africa, and the Islamic world, Sabbahi said.

Regarding the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, Sabbahi said it should not be an aspect of competition between candidates because it is a matter of national security and Egyptian should be united for Ethiopia to negotiate with on fair basis.

The basis for relations with Ethiopia should be the right of the Nile Basin state to water and electricity, and Egypt should seek partnership with Ethiopia to help them achieve sustainable electricity without affecting Egypt’s water resources, according to Sabbahi.

Voters should not only select a presidential candidate for his electoral program, but also should make sure the candidate is capable of implementing it, Sabbahi said on Youm7 Hangouts.

“As people read about my program, I want them to consider my 40-year long history in the opposition and review all my stances in favor of the oppressed at times not many people voiced their opposition. I was imprisoned because I sided with farmers and laborers,” he added.

The most significant change to his 2012 electoral program is the “eradication of terrorism” as well as other developments being studied by his electoral team, Sabbahi said.

Sabbahi emphasized that he is against the project and the ideas of the Muslim Brotherhood, describing it as a rightist organization that seeks a capitalist state under a religious guise. “I am against religious monopoly and using it to divide Egypt and the Arab nation or as a tool for hatred,” Sabbahi said.

“My program involves real implementation of the constitution. There will be something new in Egypt every day, motivating Egyptians to work harder. My program aims at a reunion and an end for polarization,” Sabbahi added.

According to Sabbahi, social justice can be achieved through a comprehensive development scheme that would benefit the poor before the rich.

“One of the main objectives of my program is to establish a state of law. While no one should commit a crime with impunity, there should be no collective punishment. Peaceful opinion makers should not be persecuted,” Sabbahi said.

Egyptians from the Islamic current, which is much wider than the Muslim Brotherhood, should not be discriminated against, for they are citizens with rights and duties like every other Egyptian, Sabbahi continued.

“If I do not become president, I will continue to play a role in the opposition and assist the president if he does a good job and oppose him if he does not,” Sabbahi said.

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