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Interview with Egyptian Interim Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy; Interview with Mohamed El-Erian, CEO of PIMCO; Oscar Pistorius Charged with Premeditated Murder; Absent Fathers Put Children at Risk

Aired August 19, 2013 - 15:00:00   ET


HALA GORANI, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Hala Gorani, in for Christiane Amanpour.

Is this the nightmare scenario for Egypt's revolution? Waking up to find that not only are you back where you started, but that things may actually be worse?

Just over two years ago, Egyptians took to Tahrir Square and ousted their long-term leader, Hosni Mubarak. Back then, you'll remember, streets were mostly filled with joy and hope.

But today, a much different, darker story. The country is going through its most bloody episode in recent history. A military-backed government is in power again, after ousting the country's first democratically-elected president. Now they're cracking down on his Muslim Brotherhood supporters and so far nearly 1,000 are dead.

Also what seemed unthinkable in the post-revolutionary fervor could now be a reality. News today that ex-dictator Hosni Mubarak may be back on the scene. His lawyer says he could be released from prison within weeks while waiting to be retried for his connection to 800 deaths during the 2011 uprising.

Well, despite all of this, the military-backed interim government claims the country is still on the path to democracy . But with so much blood spilled, can Egypt really move forward from all this?

Tonight, an opportunity to speak with someone from Egypt's current government, Nabil Fahmy is Egypt's interim foreign minister . I spoke to him earlier on the phone from neighboring Sudan.


GORANI: Minister Nabil Fahmy, the interim foreign minister for Egypt, thank you for being with us on CNN today.


GORANI: All right. First question, I've got to ask you this, is Egypt still on the path to democracy with everything that's gone on, all the bloodshed over the last several days?

FAHMY: If you look at the history of all countries in transformation, from authoritarian rule to democracy, they've all had bumps on the road. Many of them have taken actually almost 100 years to get this done. And we do not plan to do that. It has been a very frustrating few weeks and we mourn seriously all the bloodshed, all the losses, irrespective of their affiliation politically. But yes, the commitment still is to the road map, still is to (inaudible). It's going to take a bit more time, however because we need to stabilize security, so people can think rationally rather than emotionally.

GORANI: But you are calling almost 1,000 dead a bump on the road to democracy, Minister Fahmy?

FAHMY: What I said is that we obviously have a stumble on the road. There is a security problem; we're trying to deal with that. As soon as we get that settled, I do believe we will come back to (inaudible) model, and vigorously.

GORANI: So you are a civilian in a military-backed government. Do you -- an interim government, I should say.

Do you still trust the military to usher your country into a true pluralistic democracy?

FAHMY: I'm a civilian in a civilian government that has a clear mandate and a clear commitment to pursue the road map which means (inaudible) constitution within the next 2-3 months. Having two elections after that and then handing over power to whoever majority exists. That's our goal.

GORANI: Let me ask you about Hosni Mubarak. There were reports now that the ex-president, the deposed president, Hosni Mubarak, would be released within days according to his lawyer. And when people hear that and those who criticize the fact that Mohammed Morsy himself was removed with the help and the support of the military, they say what was all this for?

What was this revolution for in Egypt?

Is he going to be released?

FAHMY: Well, first of all, I'm in Khartoum, as you know. So I actually did not know the details of what was announced today. Lawyers have a tendency to promote their own cases in the press. But ultimately if he's released or is not released, this will be done by the court, according to the law, if -- as complicated as it is, the court has to be the one judging on this. It, of course, will be taken very emotionally by other the people. But you can argue that in spite of all that the court releases him then the court is showing its independence.

GORANI: You know of course full well that Mohamed ElBaradei, the interim vice president, resigned from his post. He said there were other ways to do what was done in those two squares that were cleared by the military and he doesn't want his name attached to this.

Did you ever have any second thoughts about how this was all handled or any thoughts at all about stepping down yourself?

FAHMY: First of all, Dr. ElBaradei explained the reason why he resigned. Let's leave it at that. I don't want to comment on somebody else's decisions, especially in his absence. I respect everyone's choices and Dr. ElBaradei is a friend of mine.

These -- this has been a very difficult phase. The decision to formally instruct the (inaudible), the police to intervene in this, as the prime minister said, was a very, very difficult decision. And I said (inaudible) whether they are a member of secularists or of politics or Islamic parties.


GORANI: But do you think that -- do you think that if I -- if I may jump in, security forces went overboard here. Do you think this was handled properly? And did you ever have any thoughts about stepping down or are you fully confident in your role in this government?

FAHMY: It was clear that trying to engage two sides like Nada (ph) and Raba (ph) with that number of people, including a significant amount of weapons, in one of them at least, if not both, there was obviously going to be casualties. And that was something of concern to all of us.

On the other hand, there were also concerns about are the negotiators trying to prolong it indefinitely, even increased further their capacity to cause losses and random havoc. And frankly, if you look at what happened Friday, last Friday, less than half a mile from my house I could hear it and watch it on live television. People were walking on the bridge with live ammunition and machine guns, shooting into buildings randomly. This was really a planned attack to terrorize the people.

So am I comfortable with what happened? Of course not. But ultimately, the responsibility of the government is to enhance security and then find and negotiate solutions with -- peaceful solutions to it.

GORANI: Interim Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy, thank you very much for joining us today.

FAHMY: You're welcome.


GORANI: As the political chaos in Egypt continues, its economy is in shambles. Egypt's unemployment rate, the official one, by the way, not counting underemployment, it was a major driver for Egypt's young revolutionaries. Take a look at the figures.

It was at 9 percent in 2011. It has soared to almost 14 percent today. The 9 percent figure before Mubarak was ousted, more than 25 percent of the population now lives below the poverty line. And as the world watches, the massive protests and bloody violence, tourism, which usually generates more than 10 percent of Egypt's GDP, has grinded (sic) to a halt.

Mohamed El-Erian is CEO of PIMCO, a global investment firm. He's Egyptian, of course, and is p paying very close attention to the events unfolding in his country. And he joins me now from California.

Thanks very much for being with us. You look at the current situation, and you said, in one piece I saw you quoted in, "This is the dark side of political awakening."

What do you mean by that?

MOHAMED EL-ERIAN, CEO, PIMCO: So if you look at what happened in January 2011, it was a fundamental political awakening of the Egyptian person. After feeling like a landless peasant in a country that was ruled for a privilege few, suddenly the average Egyptian was empowered. And empowered and feel -- to feel ownership for his or her country and to be able to control his or her destiny. That's why they came back on the street in 2012 when they felt that the previous interim military government wasn't handing off quickly. And that's why they came back to the street again in June -- on June 30th. So there's a process of empowerment and, Hala, that's why there is no going back. I think the question is how do you go forward from here? But there is no going back to a culture of fear and a culture of representation.

GORANI: But you say that. However, if you look at some of the most recent developments, those who are afraid that things might be going back, we'll point to Hosni Mubarak perhaps released, also military rulers in power. The freedom of the press, in many ways, is very much threatened, having to register with intelligence services in order to get permits to report.

I mean, all these things are a throwback to the Mubarak era, no?

EL-ERIAN: So they are and you have to understand whether they're going to persist or not. So this is a country trying the most tricky of all revolutionary pivot, which is to go from dismantling the past to building a better future.

Now normally that process is helped and facilitated by institutions and strong leaders . Egypt today, unfortunately, has neither of these. So the system will try and go back. But I don't think the people allow it to go back. So it is, unfortunately, a very messy process. And it's a very tragic process.

You know, almost 1,000 people have lost their lives in the last few days. So I think that collectively Egyptians have to realize that they have to come together. I, who look at the economy, worry, because every single day that we stay in this regime is much harder to pull the economy back out. And the economy was fragile to begin with.

GORANI: And that's always usually very much a threat to national security when such a large portion of young people are out of work. When you look at the Egyptian economy today, what -- in the current context, what goes through your mind?

What do you think should be done?

EL-ERIAN: So I'm torn, Hala, between the tragedy of today and every element in the economy is under strong pressure, growth is almost nonexistent. There are no jobs being created. There are jobs being lost . And the budget and the balance of things are coming under pressure against the reality of when you empower people, when people feel that they can control their destiny, you see great things.

SO if you go to Egypt at the micro level, you see people, entrepreneurship and other things happening. So it's a question of trying to get that pivot done.

GORANI: And of course very few people know more than you, I should say very few people know more than you about global funds and investment. And one of the interesting facts that we pulled was the market cap, the value of the whole Egyptian stock market, about $50 billion U.S. If you look at Apple, the company, it's worth almost 10 times that.

This is a country of 85 million people. It is so far behind.

EL-ERIAN: That's the tragedy, Hala. This is an economy that has been held back in terms of its potential. This is about human talent that has not been allowed to meet its potential. So there is a good story to be told about Egypt and there's a good future. But the immediate situation is to get a process of national political reconciliation.

Without that, Hala, it's going to be very difficult to move forward.

GORANI: You were named head of the U.S. Global Development Council in 2012 by Barack Obama. Were you asked for your opinion about current events in Egypt?

EL-ERIAN: No. No, I have not been asked.

GORANI: OK. And if you were, what advice would you give?

EL-ERIAN: I would say it's very difficult for any outsider, including someone like me living outside Egypt. It's very difficult for any outsider right now to have any influence in Egypt. The best thing to do is to maintain optionality in the short term, to be there, to inform and help, but not to think you can influence or dictate, because you cannot and you should not. This is something that the Egyptians living in Egypt have to sort out. But over the longer term, facilitate the empowerment of the people, facilitate entrepreneurship, facilitate small and medium term enterprises and forget about this notion that aid can do it all. That's the past. The future is about empowering the Egyptians.

GORANI: Mohamed El-Erian, the CEO of PIMCO, great pleasure talking to you today. Thanks so much for being with us.

EL-ERIAN: Thank you.

GORANI: All right.

Well, as democracy disappears in Egypt -- or it appears so in many cases -- supporters of the ousted president Mohammed Morsy fear they may share the same fate. Some of them, like this man in this picture, make sure their names and addresses are written on their clothing and sometimes on their skin. That way family and friends can identify them in case they're injured or killed.

And after a break, the national hero who became a tabloid sensation when he shot his glamorous girlfriend last Valentine's Day. Today in South Africa, Oscar Pistorius was charged with her murder and faces a lifetime behind bars. That's when we come back. Stay with us.




GORANI: Welcome back to the program. I'm Hala Gorani, sitting in for Christiane tonight.

Olympian Oscar Pistorius now faces the real possibility of spending the rest of his life behind bars. The South African sprinting star was charged today with the premeditated shooting of his fashion model girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

Today she would have celebrated her 30th birthday. Dressed in a black suit with head bowed, Pistorius maintained his composure for the most part while he was in the courtroom; an occasional tear streamed down his cheek. The Blade Runner has always maintained that he killed Steenkamp accidentally, mistaking her for an intruder.

The state does not buy that. They believe he planned the murder and they think they can prove it.

The trial date for the 26-year-old athlete is set for March 2014. CNN's Robyn Curnow has been coverage this case from the very beginning and joins me now from Pretoria, South Africa.

So, Robyn, he could have got -- the state, I should say, could have gone for much lesser charges. This is the most serious possible charge.

Why is that?

ROBYN CURNOW, CNN HOST: Well, it's a good question. I think many legal analysts that I've spoken to felt that perhaps the state is sort of overextending themselves because there seems at this point to not to have a lot -- there seems not to be a lot of forensic evidence to prove that this was planned and premeditated, even the indictment that we saw today that was physically handed to Oscar Pistorius, the state sort of also hinted that they might be able to prove by various evidence from witnesses or neighbors close by to Pistorius that there perhaps had been a fight, that there had been screams and then shooting, which points, of course, to spur- of-the-moment, spontaneous shooting or murder, which of course doesn't really justify a premeditated charge.

So why they're pushing for this very severe charge, well, whether this is about political games, legal procedure, it's quite unclear. On the other hand, maybe a legal analyst (inaudible).

GORANI: All right. I believe we have just now a technical problem with the connection with Robyn, but she is back.

So here's my other question.

What about Reeva Steenkamp's family? What are they saying in reaction to all of this, to these charges, the most severe, as we just discussed?

CURNOW: Reeva Steenkamp's father and mother live quite far away from here, Pretoria. They haven't been at any of these court appearances. They've said that they actually won't be coming to much of the trial at all, perhaps they could change their mind.

Today, Hala, was the first day we've actually seen anybody representing Reeva in court; her friends, who she was staying with at the time of her death, came to court and they made a brief statement, saying that her memory lives on. We cannot forget the last thing (inaudible) she had on everyone she met. But in terms of her parents, they've said very little. We know from one or two interviews they've given to local press that they still asking for questions. Her mum said hopefully she could have protected her, but she couldn't. They asked their question, why, why, why. But in terms of whether they think he's guilty or not, there's really been nothing from them. What we do know is that they are thinking of suing him, Hala. Reeva, they relied heavily on Reeva for financial support. So that could be one avenue in the months ahead. But in terms of today, apparently the family's small, intimate gathering were remembering her instead of celebrating her 30th birthday, which is supposed to be today.

GORANI: and back to the case, there were problems. The chief investigator was replaced. There were testimony contradictions. This was messy right off the top, wasn't it?

CURNOW: Absolutely. You can remember that very dramatic moment when the chief policeman in charge of the investigation was effectively discredited in that bail hearing. Since then, the South African police service, the state has really tried to put on a more official face, saying that this is not being bungled.

But I think there is a sense from many people watching this that there could be mistakes being made, particularly -- the big question, why are there more than 100 witnesses listed on the charge sheet today?

Is this because they are relying very heavily on circumstantial evidence, on trying to paint Oscar Pistorius as some sort of trigger happy violent person, rather than relying on forensic evidence that was gathered at the scene?

So there really is a sense, I think at the moment, that this really could go any way.

GORANI: And between now and March, of course, as we know the trial date's set for March of next year, what about Oscar Pistorius?

Does he continue to compete?

CURNOW: Well, he has said that he's going to focus on the trial. When I spoke to his family just a few months ago, they said, listen; he perhaps once in a while jogs and trains around the track. But there's certainly no idea, no plan for him to compete officially until this is all over, no matter what the outcome is.

We understand from his family that he's quite -- still very much distraught. He has a deep sense of regret. He still pines for her, according to his uncle, in his room, in the place where he lives in his uncle's house . There are apparently a lot of photographs of him and Reeva together. He really and the family still firmly believe that he made a tragic mistake and he's very much having to live with that.

But in terms of competing competitively, that's certainly isn't on the cards.

GORANI: OK, Robyn Curnow, live in Pretoria, South Africa, with the very latest on this. As we mentioned there, Oscar Pistorius facing charges, officially, on what would have been the 30th birthday of the girlfriend that he shot and killed on Valentine's Day this year.

And after a break, imagine the world's most famous first-time father not only helping to diaper a future king, but also inspiring other men -- perhaps -- to follow his example and help raise their children.

The importance of fatherhood when we come back.




GORANI: A final thought tonight, he's the dad seen around the world, Britain's Prince William recently sat down with CNN's Max Foster, who talked about the joys and fears of fatherhood.


PRINCE WILLIAM, DUKE OF CAMBRIDGE: I think the last few weeks for me have been just a very different emotional experience, something I never thought I would feel myself. And I find, again, it's only been a short period, but a lot of things affect me differently now.


GORANI: But imagine a world where all babies aren't as fortunate as little Prince George, third in line to the British throne.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, right here in the richest nation on Earth, one-third of all children, some 24 million, are raised without a biological father in the home. And the numbers also suggest that children with absent fathers are much more likely to be poor, less educated and socially adjusted with five times the national average of youth suicides.

Back in June, the most famous dad in American, President Barack Obama, issued a very personal and moving appeal for responsible fathers in his annual Father's Day address. Take a listen.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I never really knew my own father. I was raised by a single mom and two wonderful grandparents who made incredible sacrifices for me. But I still wish I had a dad who was not only around, but involved; another role model to teach me what my mom did her best to instill -- values like hard work and integrity; responsibility and delayed gratification -- all the things that give a child the foundation to envision a brighter future for themselves.


GORANI: Of course, not every child with or without a father can grow up to be president or king. But every child can benefit from the love and support that only a father can provide.

That's it for tonight's program. Meantime, you can always contact us at our website, And you can follow me on Twitter, @halagorani. Thanks for watching and goodbye from New York.