CAIRO, Dec 26, 2012 (AFP)
CAIRO, Dec 26, 2012 (AFP)
President Mohamed Morsi said on Wednesday he will reshuffle his government to tackle Egypt’s pressing economic problems, in a national address hailing a new constitution backed by his Islamist allies.
He was consulting with Prime Minister Hisham Qandil on the ministerial changes.
“I will deploy all my efforts to boost the Egyptian economy, which faces enormous challenges but has also big opportunities for growth, and I will make all the changes necessary for this task,” he said.
In his first public remarks since a constitutional referendum held on December 15 and 22, Morsi struck a tone that was at turns conciliatory and defiant towards an opposition that has angrily rejected the charter.
Morsi acknowledged Egypt had gone through “disquieting” weeks of unrest, but said he was ready for political dialogue.
He said he took “difficult” decisions in the lead-up to the adoption of the charter, which was passed with 64 percent of votes in a referendum that had a low turnout of 33 percent.
But they were necessary to establish “a new era… with more security and stability.”
“Yes, there were mistakes on both sides during this temporary period,” he said. “I bear the responsibility with you.”
But he added: “I only took decisions for God and in the interests of the nation.”
The result, the constitution, would cap nearly two years of turmoil since the overthrow of president Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, and allow Egypt to enter “an era with greater security and stability,” he said.
On the sometimes violent protests against his push for the new constitution, Morsi said: “Unfortunately, some people didn’t realise the difference between the right to express one’s opinion and the recourse to violence to try to impose one’s opinion by hindering public institutions.”
Differences of opinion in a democracy were “healthy” he said, but “we all reject violence”. The new constitution, which he held up in his televised speech, represented “a new dawn for Egypt”.
The president rejected opposition allegations of fraud and said he was determined “to apply the will of the people” to promote “growth, progress and social justice.”
The opposition, made up of a broad mix of leftwing, Christian, liberal and secular groups, is challenging the referendum though it seems largely resigned to the new constitution.
But its umbrella coalition, the National Salvation Front, says it will continue its struggle to have the charter replaced with another drafted through a political consensus.