Dr. El Salmi, who was responsible for overseeing the transition to democracy in the first post-revolution Egyptian government, described the political scene in Egypt today as “extremely confused”, particularly in light of the faltering process to draft a new constitution and the possible annulment of the Constituent Assembly.
During his time as deputy prime minister, Dr. El Salmi drafted a well-known guidance document that was known in the media as the “El Salmi document” regarding the drafting of the new constitution. This document was subject to some objection and criticism, particularly from Islamist trends and the Muslim Brotherhood, because it supported granting the Egyptian military a special status in the new constitution.
As for the legal and constitutional controversy that has been raging in Egypt over the past two months over the Constituent Assembly, Dr. El Salmi told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the political scene in Egypt today is extremely confused, in addition to the hindering of the constitution drafting process and the possible annulment of the Constituent Assembly. This was due to faults in the second formation of this Constituent Assembly after it violated a ruling issued by the Administrative Court in April of this year.”
He added “I believe that even with the continuation of the current Constituent Assembly, the expected differences between the Islamist trend and the liberal trend and the defenders of the civil state will represent a major obstacle in the path of national consensus on the new constitution.”
Before being appointed as deputy prime minister in the first government formed following the Egyptian revolution, Dr. El Salmi served in a number of ministerial posts under the Sadat regime, including Egyptian Minister for Administrative Development between 1977 – 78.
Dr. El Salmi, who is a member of the Supreme Authority of the liberal al-Wafd party, attributed the conflicts that have been raging in Egypt recently between the legislative and judicial authorities to the Freedom and Justice party’s desire to monopolize power. He said “the reason for the inconsistency in the decisions of the former People’s Assembly, before its dissolution, was due to the Freedom and Justice party’s desire...to seize power and exclude other political parties and forces.”
He added “the result was that the People’s Assembly’s decisions were being issued from one viewpoint, without listening to the advice or views of the opposition. This led to mistakes being made, and following this clashes erupted between the People’s Assembly and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces [SCAF], as well as between SCAF and the government.”
The former Egyptian deputy prime minister also indicated that it was natural that these clashes would end with the dissolution of parliament. He told Asharq Al-Awsat that “these wrong practices by the Freedom and Justice party – the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood – which competed for the parliamentary seats that should have been reserved for individual candidates...ultimately led to the dissolution of the People’s Assembly.”
El Salmi stressed that “in my opinion, the Muslim Brotherhood and its political party’s insistence on acquiring all branches of power in Egypt without being prepared to accept other ideas or cadres, and without possessing the required experiences, has led them to make mistakes that has eroded their popularity. They have failed to recognize other political parties and accept the principles of the civil state, whist also refusing to work on the sidelines with other national forces...therefore their political experience will end in failure.”