CAIRO: Former President Hosni Mubarak asked the Egyptian people to support former Minister of Defense Field Marshal Abdel Fatah al-Sisi in upcoming presidential elections and criticized opposition candidate Hamdeen Sahhabi in a phone interview released Wednesday evening.
“Choose Sisi; he is the only one on the arena and the best,” the former president said in his second interview since stepping down in February 2011, given to Al-Masry Al-Youm journalist Mohsen Semeka.
In May 2013 Mubarak gave his first post-resignation interview to Al-Watan newspaper.
In the recording of the interview, broadcast on al-Hayat al-Youm satellite channel, Mubarak said the United States had promoted the political activity of the Muslim Brotherhood, and that he had deflected such pressure when he was in office.
Following the ouster of Mohamed Morsi on July 3, many Egyptians have accused the U.S. of colluding with the Brotherhood; this belief was reinforced when the U.S. withheld the delivery of its military aid.
Mubarak said opposition candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi, a Nasserist who also participated in the 2012 elections, is “not fit” to be president.
Mubarak said Sabbahi “exploits” the legacy of late President Gamal Abdel Nasser, a socialist who was instrumental in Egypt’s 1952 revolution and is revered by many as a military hero.
Mubarak said Abdel-Nasser controlled the country with an “iron fist” and that anyone who tried to “open his mouth” was imprisoned, suggesting this as the reason Sabbahi calls for Nasserite ideology in Egypt today.
Mubarak, however, established a police state in Egypt that lasted almost the entirety of his three-decade-long rule with the application of Emergency Law No. 162 of 1958. The Emergency Law forbade gatherings of more than five people without prior permission and paved the way for the Mubarak government to arrest political detainees.
Anywhere between 5,000 to 10,000 political prisoners were held without charges from the beginning of Mubarak’s administration in 1981 until 2009, according to Human Rights Organization’s 2010 annual report, citing Egyptian human rights organizations.
In the recorded interview, Mubarak also said he had become tired of taking responsibility for Egypt. “I spent 30 years of my life fighting with the Egyptian army and spent 30 years ruling the country as efficient as I could, but my role has finished,” he said.
Mubarak, his two sons Alaa and Gamal, his former Minister of Interior Habib al-Adly, six of his assistants and businessman Hussein Salem all face charges of killing peaceful demonstrators during the January 25 Revolution, in addition to causing chaos in the country.
Mubarak is still being tried on the murder charges, but was acquitted of other charges including corruption, profiteering and wasting public funds.