Published September 19, 2013
CAIRO (AFP) – Visiting EU special envoy Bernardino Leon said Thursday a political reconciliation in Egypt was necessary even if "extremely difficult" following Islamist president Mohamed Morsi's ouster.
Morsi, Egypt's first democratically elected president, was deposed on July 3 by the powerful army which installed a government that has launched a massive crackdown on his supporters and his Muslim Brotherhood.
At least 1,000 people have been killed in the campaign and over 2,000 arrested, including most of the Islamist movement's leadership.
Leon met with both government officials including foreign minister Nabil Fahmy and Muslim Brotherhood members, among them Amr Darrag, an international cooperation minister under Morsi.
Both sides said "we have to go back to an inclusive process," Leon told reporters on the second day of his visit.
Leon has been in Cairo several times as part of international efforts to mediate between the authorities and the Brotherhood whose supporters set up two massive protest camps in Cairo.
On August 14, security forces dispersed the camps in a bloody crackdown that left hundreds dead.
"As friends, we try to support the process, we are not trying to teach any lessons," Leon said.
"We feel the international community and the European Union can play a role to support the Egyptians while they are facing these challenges," he said.
Leon stressed that the lack of trust on both sides "is deeper than one month ago."
"I think reconciliation is absolutely necessary, so it has to be possible, even if it looks extremely difficult," he added.
However, he saw signs of hope. "All my interlocutors insisted on the need to go back to an inclusive process," Leon said.
But he was unsure whether Darrag was mandated to represent the Brotherhood or if the movement could make decisions "as many of their leaders have been detained."
The army has laid out a roadmap which includes the drafting of a new constitution, followed by parliamentary and presidential elections in an all-inclusive democratic process.