Egypt’s Mansour says committed to election

Egypt’s interim president Adly Mansour vows his government will stick to a timetable for elections next year and hopes to lift a state of emergency in mid-September.

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Mansour, in his first television interview since the military appointed him on ousting president Mohamed Morsi on July 3, added Egypt was facing “terrorism” that was hampering investment and tourism.

“We will commit to the timetable in all the other stages,” Mansour said of planned elections by mid-2014 after a constitutional referendum.

Mansour has already appointed a constitutional committee that will amend the charter suspended on Morsi’s overthrow before it is put to a vote.

According to his timetable, parliamentary elections will follow by early 2014 and then the presidential ballot.

The former top judge said he believed the month-long state of emergency declared on August 14 would not have to be renewed if security improves.

Hundreds were killed across the country that day as police stormed two protest camps in Cairo by Morsi’s Islamist supporters.

The violence has died down in recent days in most of the country, barring the restive Sinai peninsula where the army is battling a militant insurgency.

“If security continues to gradually improve, I think there is no need to extend the state of emergency,” Mansour said in the interview with state television.

The police and military crackdown on August 14 sparked a storm of international condemnation, particularly of the operation to clear the Cairo protest camps.

However, Mansour said police acted “in accordance with international standards.”

The interim president also addressed foreign policy during the hour-long interview, saying Egypt would wait for a UN report before assigning blame for an August 21 chemical weapons attack in Syria.

“Egypt denounces the use of chemical attacks by any party,” he stressed.

But he added that his government would wait for the UN inspectors’ report “so we can determine the responsible party.”

The United States, France, Turkey and other countries have already blamed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for the attack.

Mansour said patience was running thin with the influential Gulf state Qatar, which closely supported Morsi and criticised the popularly-backed coup that toppled the Islamist president.

“I hope we can keep our reserve of patience, which is about to run out,” said the famously phlegmatic leader.

Morsi’s removal however was enthusiastically supported by Saudi Arabia and several other Gulf states that pledged $US12 billion ($A13.42 billion) in aid to the interim government.