By Heba Fahmy
CAIRO: At an American Chamber of Commerce event on Monday, presidential hopeful Amr Moussa said that if 25 percent of voters vote “no” in the referendum on the new constitution, it should be considered a veto.
He added that there should be a general consensus on the new constitution for it to be considered valid and credible.
The 100-member constituent assembly was elected by the upper and lower houses of parliament in a joint session on Saturday with Islamists dominating almost 60 percent of the panel that will be tasked with writing the constitution. Only five women and six Copts were elected, triggering a wave of walkouts by liberal and leftist members.
Moussa expressed his support for a presidential system to be enshrined in the constitution, saying that Egypt was not prepared for a parliamentary system.
He stressed that there was a huge difference between a constitutional presidential system and the dictatorship that marred the reign of ousted president Hosni Mubarak.
However, the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party and the hardline Salafi Al-Nour Party, which together control over 70 percent of seats in parliament, back a semi-presidential system.
Moussa evaded the issue of whether he would walk out of the presidential race if the new constitution imposes a semi-presidential system.
According to the constitutional declaration drafted by the ruling military council last year, the president will have a four-year term and will only be allowed to run for two terms.
Moussa, however, stressed that he only intended to run for one term.
Regarding the economy, Moussa said that he would “adopt an economic policy as though Egypt were to go for accession to the European Union.”
“It’s our right, even our duty, to implement the best policies in order to reform the country,” he added.
Moussa said that the transitional period needed to end as soon as possible by electing a president, writing a new constitution and enhancing the performance of parliament, in order to revive the economy.
“We have seen protests and negative reactions to the parliament’s performance … there’s a lot of sweet talk and no action, we want to avoid this in the presidency,” he said.
He said that he spoke to Egyptian, Arab and foreign investors who were more than willing to pump large amounts of money into Egyptian businesses, as long as there were guarantees that the situation is stable and that their investments won’t go to waste.
Regarding education, he said that the first 11 years of primary education should be mandatory, free and of good quality. Higher education, he said, should be tailored to the needs of the market to combat unemployment.
“In his first 100 days, the elected president should work on streamlining management and priorities, which doesn’t cost anything,” he said.
At the event, President of AmCham Gamal Moharam publicly endorsed Moussa for president, stressing that this was his personal position, not that of AmCham.
As part of a series of luncheons planned by AmCham, presidential hopeful Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh will be hosted on April 9.