Middle East will be democratic in a 'few' years: Mussa

GENEVA- In a few years the Middle East will be based on democracy, the rule of law and freedom of expression, Egyptian presidential candidate Amr Mussa said Friday.
"In the next few years, you are going to see a Middle East based on democracy, on reform, and on serious and genuine economic and social development," he told a conference organised by the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

"You are going to see a Middle East respecting its constitution and its laws with freedom of expression, with serious economic plans to lift the standard of living, and to make our people satisfied," the 75-year-old career diplomat said.
Mussa was foreign minister under former president Hosni Mubarak from 1991 to 2001 and president of the League of Arab States from 2001 to 2011.
According to a June poll by the New York-based International Peace Institute, he is the front-runner for the next Egyptian presidential elections with 32 percent of voting intentions.
Parliamentary elections, originally planned for September, have been delayed for "up to two months" by the ruling military.
The presidential vote is expected to be held next year, though no date has been fixed.
Mussa, speaking at the annual conference of academics and policymakers, said that although there might have been some external causes of the Arab Spring revolts, they were led by a population frustrated by misrule and the lack of economic opportunities.
"The Arab people were enraged ... because of the policies pursued by the so-called elected leaders through fraud," he said.
Chronic misrule, Mussa said, "triggered the opposition, then the uprising, then the revolution."
"The pursuit of happiness. That is what we need in the Middle East," he said.
But much work lies ahead, Mussa warned.
"The Egyptian society... was all mishandled. Our task is to lead the country from scratch."
Although he offered very few concrete policy initiatives, Mussa said that the Israeli peace talks "shall continue to enjoy high priority", and would have to be based on the Arab Peace Initiative.
"What we are offering is an offer many say Israel should not refuse," he said.
The Arab peace initiative, presented by Saudi Arabia in 2002, offers Israel full normalisation of ties in return for its withdrawal from occupied Arab land and the creation of a Palestinian state. Israel has rejected the proposal.
"We need a balanced peace, a peace that both would win," Mussa said.

Friday, September 9th 2011

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