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Where Is Egypt Headed?; Can Peace be Achieved in Congo?

Aired February 4, 2013 - 15:00:00   ET


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour. Where is Egypt's young democracy headed? The country's army chief last week sparked fear at home and abroad when he warned that the ongoing conflict between political forces could lead to a collapse of the state -- his words.

For months now, Egypt has been wracked by what looks like anarchy spilling violently into the streets. The latest explosion began 10 days ago in Port Said and along cities along the Suez Canal. And it spread to the capital, Cairo.

At times, it really does look totally out of control. Before that, in December, there were running street battles over the constitutional crisis. And at times, it looks like images from two years ago. And the protests that brought down Hosni Mubarak's government.

Could the revolution that brought democracy to Egypt end up killing it as well? In a moment, I'll interview Prime Minister Hesham Kandil, and I'll ask him how the new Egypt will survive. But first, a look at the other stories we're covering tonight.



AMANPOUR (voice-over): In the Democratic Republic of Congo, unrest has morphed into war that's cost millions of human lives and spawned a brutal trade in blood ivory, too.

And an electrical mess leaves millions in the dark. In New Orleans, it's a super snafu.

In Nigeria --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In my house, I have like four generators because that's all you live on. It's crazy. And the noise.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): It's a fact of daily life.



AMANPOUR: We'll get to that in a bit, but first to Prime Minister Hesham Kandil at a crucial moment for Egypt's democracy.


AMANPOUR: Prime Minister, welcome back to this program.


AMANPOUR: You have experience in seeing this anger first-hand. You were heckled when you went to Tahrir Square this weekend and you've given a speech saying that there is a perception of losing control. Certainly everybody looking in is very concerned about whether the government has a grip on the current situation. How do you answer that?

KANDIL: What's happening in Egypt, that we're paying the price of the era, Mubarak's era, the young democracy in Egypt is still paying the price for the 30 years of oppression and the 30 years of no democracy.

So you know, our democracy is going through a test, how the majority can accommodate the needs and the concerns of the minority and how the minority can listen to the majority and respect, you know, the -- basically respect the majority of opinion.

AMANPOUR: So what did you mean, then, when, over the weekend, you said, "Let us admit that the government, all the political forces, all the parties have failed in containing the youth. This is something that we all have to walk on -- work on."

KANDIL: Yes, well, I mean, this is -- you know, this is the government. This is -- this is the government that tells the truth, that the youth, the -- really, they have not found themselves yet in the actions, where yet we have taken. You know, the fact that you see people in the street, youngsters in the streets, that do not belong to any party.

So when you listen to them, they say, well, nobody represents us. Nobody represents us. We represent ourselves. That condemn everybody that -- those parties that are -- do exist in Egypt have not yet able -- have not been able yet to attract the youngsters to join them. The government also is not -- as yet is also, you know, should do more about that.

And we are doing something about it. And I'm talking to the youth and I'm talking to do constructive acts. I want to convince the youth that maybe, whether you're angry, whether you're -- whether you're dissatisfied with the government, let us build our country. Let us not throw stones. Let's not throw Molotov cocktails. Let us -- let us build our country.

This is my humble, you know, initiative or advice to the youth. And we'll work on it.

AMANPOUR: Well, let me ask you this, because everybody has been extremely alarmed by what the head of the Egyptian armed forces said last week, basically saying that the current political crisis, quote, "could lead to the collapse of the state."

First of all, does that worry you? Do you think the state is in danger of collapse?

KANDIL: No, no, absolutely not. You know, really the challenge is, as I mentioned, is about the majority and the minority is a way yet to inherit and apply fully the democratic values. This is something that -- it takes time. It takes time to build and to work and to inherit and to be part of our daily life.

AMANPOUR: Well, what do you think, then, as people look in -- and they've heard this statement from the general, is that just loose talk? Is he being disloyal? Or is it a sign that the army might either intervene to take over? Or force all sides into some kind of national dialogue? How do you assess what he said?

KANDIL: Well, I mean, in the army, the Egyptian army has played a pivotal role in protecting the Egyptian revolution. Everybody acknowledged that. Everybody know that. And I was an eyewitness when they gave up power to the first president elected in the history, first civilian elected president in the history of Egypt.

This is a professional army that know its role is to protect the state. When they were asked to intervene in three of the canal cities to protect the people and to protect, you know, the navigation of the Suez Canal, they did that.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you about this video that went viral over the last several days, the police beating up a protester. I mean, this is like the bad old days. How do you respond to that?

KANDIL: Well, the answer is very -- is very -- I mean, this is -- this is very sad, I tell you. This is very sad. But I can tell you also that there is -- I mean, when it comes to human dignity, when it comes to human rights, when it comes to peaceful demonstration, there is no return. You know, this is -- this is in the constitution.

This is, you know, the whole -- the whole revolution is all about this. It's about human dignity. And there is no return for that. And the people, you know, said it loud and clear. I mean, it is not -- it's not just -- it's not even up to the government. It's the people of Egypt have said that and put it in the constitution.

But what we have seen -- and it's very regrettable and it's very sad, as I told you. And we reacted on it immediately. I called -- when I saw that, I called the minister of the interior. He went out and he apologized publicly for this act. This is number one.

Number two, we immediately -- he immediately issued an investigation, internal investigation and the general prosecutors are also -- make -- carry out the necessary investigation. So we're taking this matter very seriously. But as I mentioned in my speech afterwards, let us not take an individual action and make it a general attitude of the police.

But the whole thing is there's no return to -- whether this is a democracy, the freedom of speech. There's no return about respecting human dignity.

And the call is from the people -- even for the government. This is the call of the people. And everybody has to listen to them.

AMANPOUR: Isn't the real issue that, even though there was a democratic election, it just seems that the Muslim Brotherhood, the Freedom and Justice Party are perceived to and seem to be engaged in what looks like an old-fashioned grab for autocratic power. That's what it looks like.

KANDIL: Well, I'm not sure you can make such a, you know, a very strong judgment after six or seven months of being in power in an unprecedented, you know, period, with -- coming after the revolution, you know. The challenges are enormous. And everybody's new in this democracy thing.

And as I told you, you know -- and I keep repeating this to my people as well. It is not only about having, you know, democratic institutions in place. It's not only about having an election. It is more about inheriting the democratic values.

And this will take time.

AMANPOUR: And then, finally, this is where, I think, you wanted to work the hardest, just about, on the issue of the economy. The people are not at all satisfied with where the economy has gone in the last two years since the revolution.

It appears that the foreign currency reserves have been cut by more than half since the revolution. The pound has lost 4 percent. You've postponed the $5 billion or so deal that the IMF was going to give to you. You postponed that.

KANDIL: My friend, I'm working hard in different places and in different aspects 24/7. But the most important is results and to see some improvements on the economy. I cannot be held accountable for the two years because I was not in charge. But I tell you that this is -- this is issue number one.

But you need to have the enabling environment for the economy to move forward. And I was just talking to the Egyptian people via the, you know, the Egyptian TV an hour ago.

And I think it is -- it is -- it is two things and it is political stability as well as hard work that can bring to us the fruits of the revolution. If you want to have -- if -- and we want to, of course, if you want to have decent life; if you want the economy to grow, those two basic things have to be in place.

AMANPOUR: Finally, President Mubarak told me before he stepped down that he would step down, but it needed some more time because otherwise there would be chaos.

He was right, wasn't he?

KANDIL: I mean, I don't like to say that, but it is -- I mean, his regime is to be blamed for many, many - the challenge that we're facing, whether this is the political part or the economic part or the social problems or all these challenges, you know, did not just appear out of nowhere. This were accumulation of things that he have not fixed over his 30 years of ruling Egypt.

AMANPOUR: Prime Minister Kandil, thank you very much for joining me.

KANDIL: Thank you, Christiane, always a pleasure. Thank you.


AMANPOUR: And from Egypt in North Africa 2,000 miles away, south to the heart of Africa, war is raging in the Congo. When we come back, I'll ask that country's prime minister if there's any chance for peace in his mineral-rich nation.

But before we take a break, here's a look at a different kind of danger in the Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo. This is an active volcano on the troubled eastern border with Rwanda. Its giant crater contains the largest permanent lava lake in the world. About 10 years ago it erupted, killing hundreds of people in the nearby city of Goma, which is the site of the latest conflict. We'll be right back.




AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program. The Democratic Republic of Congo is one of the deadliest places on Earth, nearly 4 million people have been killed since war erupted back in 1998. A brief lull brought some calm until a fierce rebellion broke out again nine months ago when a group called M23 seized the city of Goma in resource-rich Eastern Congo.

A recent U.N. report accused the Congo's Western-backed neighbor, Rwanda, of supporting M23, although President Paul Kagame denied that in an interview with me last week. Still, time may be ripe for talks to end this war as some Western governments are withholding aid from Congo unless it works to resolve the dispute with Congo.

Earlier today, I asked the DRC's prime minister, Matata Ponyo Mapon, whether that's possible. He's come to the U.N. headquarters here in New York to pursue further diplomacy. And he joined me along with his French translator.


AMANPOUR: Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for joining me. Welcome to our studio.

People look at your country with alarm. They look at this unbelievably resource-rich country. You have gold. You have tin. You have (inaudible) all the minerals that the world needs. And yet it's still a mess, sir.

Millions of people have been killed in the wars. Nearly 2 million women have been raped. Child soldiers -- let me just play a sound bite from a child soldier, right after he escaped in the summer.


"JEAN" (through translator): They came at night. They caught me and took me away. We arrived at the militia camp in daylight. I didn't know how to get back home. Sometimes we were attacked and ran away and we would come back and just fight and fight. Sometimes we would attack.


AMANPOUR: What do you say about the people of Congo who say their government just cannot protect them?

MAPON (through translator): Exactly the efforts we are really doing under the leadership of President Kabila, is to see that peace and security in the whole of DRC are restored. And we should acknowledge that the situation that prevailed in 2001, that is to say within 12 years ago, the situation that presented 2006, saw it as drastically changed.

Peace is really now at our reach in the whole of the DRC. And if M23 rebels did not have external support to come and disestablish, you know, both territories, by now, we would have had peace and security on the whole of the DRC.

So we are busy working. Restoring peace is the process because this is a country that has been undermined by war for more than a decade. But President Kabila is trying to do his best possible and he's about to achieve this and to restore peace in the country.

And today, I have to tell you, Madame, that the economic performances of our country, because this is also something you forget, we are making enormous progress which is making a really positive (inaudible) on peace and security of the (inaudible).


AMANPOUR: You say that, sir, but the latest IMF figures show that you have the lowest GDP per capita in the world, about $236 per person. Those are the latest figures, for a hugely rich country.

MAPON (through translator): That is exactly what I was saying, Madame. You are right. When you look at the GDP, you know, there, but you also need to cons, you know, the growth rate of this GDP, because when you look at the GDP, it is also influenced by the GDP growth rate. And we have 7.2 percent in 2012.

And we will achieve 8.2 growth rate in 2013.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you: the M23 rebel group says that they believe there can be a cease-fire this month.

Do you think that's true? They express confidence. Are you as confident?

MAPON (through translator): Well, I think that the end of these problems is the wish of everybody and if M23 wishes the end, we will accept this. But these should not be proposals which attract (ph). We would like these proposals to be transparent and constructive and, therefore, we are ready for peace and definite peace.

AMANPOUR: What are the sticking points? What is at issue? What do you need to resolve in order to have this cease-fire?

MAPON (through translator): When we look at the true causes of this crisis, there are external supports based upon the U.N. experts' report. And we feel very well that there's an involvement of external countries.

AMANPOUR: I think you're talking about Rwanda.

Let me play you what I asked President Kagame just last week. I said that the U.N. has said that you are responsible for supporting the M23 group. This is what he said to me.


PAUL KAGAME, PRESIDENT OF RWANDA: It's a big no on the issue of saying that I am accepting this kind of responsibility. But what I am accepting is that people can work together to find a solution to this problem that affects Rwanda, that also affects the Congo and the region. I don't want to keep on the issues of saying this one is to blame; the blame game doesn't help anyone.


AMANPOUR: What's your response to that? He's saying he doesn't accept responsibility but he believes that your country and his country and regional countries can work together.

MAPON (through translator): It is very good to, you know, negate, to refuse that that's the truth. But when it is said that Rwanda is involved in this war, when it is said that Rwanda is supporting this movement, this is not the DRC government that is stating this innately. These are the nations who are exactly saying the same things through the U.N. expert group that they put in place.

These are the experts who have been on the ground, who have fixed change with Rwandan officials, who have talked with independent officials and, at the end of the day, they establish that Rwanda is involved. So it's not only the DRC that says it, even the United Nations says so.

AMANPOUR: What is your plan as the government of the DRC to reconcile with Rwanda? And do you think that, unless, that if you do not, that there could be any chance for stability and peace?

MAPON (through translator): Actually, this solution should absolutely pass through a constructive dialogue between the DRC and Rwanda.

AMANPOUR: Is that possible?

MAPON (through translator): Yes, it is possible.

AMANPOUR: And finally, the issue of blood ivory, you must know that there's a terrible situation of the wholesale massacre of some of the greatest animals in the world, elephants and rhinos and a lot is going on in the DRC. And in fact, one report says that it was the army chief who's been helping and enabling the poachers. That's what a U.N. reporter said.

What do you have to say about that?

MAPON (through translator): It's quite normal that the disciplinary actions be taken in order to correct what had just been wrongly handled.

And in order to also get these people accountable, you know, in order for those who will be responsible to be also sanctioned, that's quite clear.

AMANPOUR: Prime Minister, thank you very much for joining me.

MAPON: Thank you very much.


AMANPOUR: And just one quick correction: as I was introduced the prime minister, I said that some Western governments had withheld aid from Congo. Well, it's not that; it's they withhold aid from Rwanda unless this situation is resolved between Rwanda and the Congo.

Now for millions of viewers around the world, when the lights went out at the Super Bowl, it was just another excuse to raid the refrigerator. But for the people of Nigeria, the super short circuit seemed all too familiar. The view from Lagos, when we return.




AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, there was a super snafu at Sunday's Super Bowl when the lights went out for 35 minutes. The largest sporting event in the United States watched by over 100 million people worldwide in 180 different countries, the super blackout launched a blizzard of tweets as far away as Nigeria.

People there were amused to know that they're not the only ones electrically challenged. Take this tweet, "Power outage at the Super Bowl on Sunday. Suddenly, Nigeria doesn't look as dark anymore."

And then there was this one: "If they had the Super Bowl in Nigeria, the power coming back on would be the real surprise."

Recently, we had Nigeria's president, Goodluck Jonathan, on this program, and he said his country's electrical woes are improving.


GOODLUCK JONATHAN, PRESIDENT OF NIGERIA: That is one area that Nigerians are quite pleased with the government, that commitment to improve power. It's working.


AMANPOUR: Well, that provoked a protest of tweets to us. Now listen to what they're saying on the streets of Lagos, Nigeria's largest city.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nothing's changed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The power is not improving at all.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's not been electricity for about three weeks now at all.

You can't even put anything in the fridge because it spoils. You have to -- you have to eat whatever it is you have that same day or it'll -- you'll be in trouble.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My friend brought here about 20,000 rand on generators monthly.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In my house, I have like four generators because that's all you live on. It's crazy. And the noise.

Something should be done about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that's the basic truth.



AMANPOUR: Maybe this tweet should have the last word.

"Nigeria should bid to host the next Super Bowl. At least we have standby generators."

That's it for tonight's program. Meantime, you can always contact us at our Facebook page, Thanks for watching and goodbye from New York.