Former Vice President for Foreign Affairs, Mohamed ElBaradei, said in a statement on Tuesday that he wasn’t aware of former President Mohamed Morsi’s arrest on July 3 until after it happened.
ElBaradei broke three years of silence on the matter, issuing the statement to counter what he claimed are “lies” propagated by media outlets concerning his political role between July 2013 and the violent dispersal of the Rabea al-Adaweya protest camp on August 14, 2013.
In his statement, ElBaradei describes a meeting he had with political and military representatives on July 3, saying: “I was surprised at the beginning of the meeting that the President [Morsi] had already been detained that morning by the Armed Forces, without any prior knowledge by political forces, which led to the head of the [Muslim Brotherhood’s] Freedom and Justice Party not attending the meeting, despite being invited. The choices were limited and definitely did not include the possibility of holding a referendum on early elections.”
ElBaradei’s priorities at the time, according to the statement, were to prevent civil conflict and maintain peace and social cohesion through “a quickly-drafted roadmap, based on assumptions that were totally different from the developments that followed.” Such “assumptions” included the involvement of a prime minister and Cabinet with full power to manage the transitional period, parliamentary elections followed by presidential elections, and a committee for national reconciliation.
“In light of this, I accepted to participate in the transitional period as a representative of civil forces, with the aim of helping to get the country out of a dangerous situation in the most peaceful way possible,” he added.
The former politician says he worked with Arab and foreign powers to facilitate mediation efforts with Morsi supporters, and that the military council was well aware of such efforts. “The aim of my official work was to reach a [consensus] that would guarantee the participation of all the currents in the political life of the country,” the statement asserted.
Despite “notable progress,” things then took a violent turn, ElBaradei said, culminating in the use of force to disperse the pro-Morsi protest camp at Rabea al-Adaweya.
“I completely objected to this in front of the National Defense Council, not just for ethical reasons, but due to the existence of political solutions that had almost been agreed upon, and would have saved the country from slipping into a circle of violence,” he explained, adding that a vicious smear campaign was launched against him after his resignation, including “direct threats” for his efforts to reach a peaceful resolution during his time in office.
The former politician added: “My opinion was and continues to be that Egypt’s future is linked to reaching transitional justice and social peace, as well as governance based on freedom, democracy, social justice, science and logic.”