Amr Moussa: Islamists won't take power in Egypt

Arab League chief, Egyptian presidential hopeful says Islamists will have place in democratic state; advocates presidential system.

Arab League chief Amr Moussa Egypt 311 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS/Abdallah Dalsh)
Arab League chief Amr Moussa Egypt 311 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS/Abdallah Dalsh)
CAIRO - Arab League chief Amr Moussa, a leading contender to become Egypt's next president, said Islamists will not take power in the country but are bound to be a player on the political scene.
"Egypt will be a democratic state and will not regress," Moussa told newspaper al-Hayat in remarks published on Monday.
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"There will be an Islamic element -- or an element based on an Islamic reference, as the constitution says -- in Egypt's political body," he said.
Moussa, 74, said his age meant he would stand for only one term and had already drafted his campaign manifesto.
Secretary-General of the Arab League since 2001, Moussa declared his candidacy for the Egyptian presidency after a popular uprising toppled Hosni Mubarak from power on Feb. 11.
The country is now run by a military council which has promised free and fair parliamentary and presidential elections by the end of the year.
Mubarak's three decades of autocratic rule made it almost impossible for anyone to challenge the dominance of his National Democratic Party, which dealt crushing defeats to its rivals in elections that his critics say were rigged.
Egypt's public prosecutor is now investigating Mubarak as part of probes into the killing of prosecutors and embezzlement of public funds, although the ousted president says allegations against him are lies.
Moussa said Egypt needed a presidential, not parliamentary, system of government for the immediate future because political parties were still too weak.
"Party activity and interaction, and the building of strong political currents, need a period of time," he said. Egypt "should be a presidential state for the coming years in the absence of strong parties."
Asked whether he feared the rise of Islamists in Egypt, Moussa replied: "Radical Islamist groups are too weak to pounce on power, but the desire for leadership will remain."