By Safaa Abdoun
CAIRO: Muslim Brotherhood leading figure Khairat Al-Shater slammed Wednesday the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), saying it won’t cede power and that Mubarak’s regime is still in place.
Al-Shater, the MB’s primary presidential candidate, was disqualified from the race because of a past criminal conviction. Like many other Brotherhood leaders, Al-Shater had spent time behind bars for his association with a group that was outlawed under the Mubarak regime.
“I was disqualified for the crime of belonging to a banned group working on overthrowing Mubarak. This allegation is non-existent now, because if it is then they’ll put the 20 million who revolted to overthrow him on trial,” Al-Shater said, noting that “a nation is being robbed and a people’s will is being forged.”
“SCAF’s insistence on keeping [Kamal] El-Ganzoury’s Cabinet despite its failure and refusing to form a coalition government, and now interfering in the Presidential Election Committee (PEC)’s decisions and the Constituent Assembly all indicate that SCAF does not have a serious will for a real transition of power,” he said, pointing out that they want a president who they can control “behind the scenes.”
“We are not facing real change but an oppressive regime and danger from what is appearing on the scene now,” he said.
Al-Shater held a press conference Wednesday after the PEC rejected his appeal against his disqualification from the presidential race. “There are people administrating the affairs of the country who are working on reviving the Mubarak regime,” he said.
He explained that the group had anticipated a problem and nominated Mohamed Morsi, head of its political party, as a backup candidate.
Morsi is the leader of the group’s political arm the Freedom and Justice Party and a close associate of Al-Shater. He, however, is not considered as strong a candidate as Al-Shater.
“We work as a team and not individuals,” Al-Shater said.
Al-Shater who resigned from his post as the MB’s deputy supreme guide said he will not go back to an administrative position but will work on his project “Egypt’s Renaissance.”
“Dignity, freedom, justice and human rights are what we want and what we will always work for,” he said.
Al-Shater explained that if the PEC is not replaced, the group will monitor the election and keep an eye out for potential forgery and vote-buying.
SCAF’s relationship with the MB turned sour, after the group was believed to have struck a deal with the council.
Al-Shater vehemently denied any “deals with SCAF” and that they are now demanding what the masses have been calling for in Tahrir for the past year.
“We have gone to Tahrir on million man marches whenever we felt that the democratic transition in jeopardy,” he said.
The group’s relations with the non-Islamist movements at the heart of street action have also turned sour. Over the past months, these youth movements and activists accused the Brotherhood of abandoning the revolution for the sake of power.
The FJP won the majority of parliament seats through elections punctuated with security crackdowns on protests and sit-ins.
Al-Shater said that even though the group does not go to Tahrir every time a movement calls for a protest, they respect their demands and rights to express themselves, but choose their battles.