CAIRO: Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif said that the wave of demonstrations that has recently swept the Egyptian street is a new way for citizens to express their demands and has no political dimension, according to state online news portal egynews.net.
In a meeting with editors of Egyptian papers on Tuesday, Nazif said that while the government attends to those calling for their constitutional rights, some protestors are making unconstitutional demands.
In recent years, Egypt has seen a wave of protests calling for higher wages, democratic reform and an end to emergency law.
In the past month, four different protests by reform advocates were violently crushed by police forces. Meanwhile, workers have continuously bunked outside the Parliament, protesting low wages and poor working conditions.
“I agree with one part of [Prime Minister] Nazif’s statements, which is that most of the protests are calling for better wages and not political reform,” political analyst Amr El-Choubaki of Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies told Daily News Egypt.
“Protests by reform activists are limited, and their numbers have not been increasing for some time,” he added, maintaining that social demonstrations have become “almost daily.”
Nazif said that this new wave helps create a medium where both viewpoints are being heard. However, he accused some independent papers and satellite channels of abusing this medium by exaggerating the faults.
According to El-Choubaki, the increase in the frequency of expressions of social unrest stems from an inequality in the distribution of resources and a glum economic state.
In the meeting, which was attended by Finance Minister Youssef Botrous Ghali and Minister of Information Anas El Fiki, Nazif said that poverty levels in Egypt are at 20 percent, pointing to India and China were poverty reaches 70 percent of the population.
Widely circulated economic studies put poverty levels in Egypt at higher percentages, ranging between 35-40.
“Statistics have become a point of view. It’s one thing when the reasons for high poverty levels are disputed, but meddling with figures mirrors the government’s effort to conceal the real crisis,” said El-Choubaki.
He explained that the current challenge is for the government to act in response to people’s demands.
“If the government is unable to respond to the demands being called for, the protests will begin to have a political dimension,” he warned.
Meanwhile, Nazif said that President Hosni Mubarak continues to back efforts to support low-income citizens, and that the government will continue to implement such policies across different fields.
He pointed to economic growth as a solution to Egypt’s problems, saying that economic prosperity will reflect on citizens, through decreasing unemployment rates and a rise in the average standard of living.
Nazif lauded the country’s ability to overcome the economic crisis, adding that the rate of economic growth expected for this year is 5.3 and will climb to 5.6 next year.
In the same statement, Nazif said the government has asked Daimler AG to reveal the name of the Egyptian official involved in the Mercedes bribery case, but that it hasn’t yet received a reply.
He added that the Egyptian government believes in the importance of transparency and that it will not tolerate corruption, maintaining that he will ensure that those accused of negligence are brought before the law.