Tony Blair says democracy isn't everything amid claims he is to step down as Middle East envoy

Mr Blair said: 'Yes democracy is important, but democracy is not on its own sufficient. You also need efficacy. You need effective government taking effective decisions'

Tony Blair has questioned the value of democracy in the Middle East saying “effective government” is more important - amid reports that he is preparing to step down from his high-profile role as peace envoy to the region.

Speaking at a conference on economic development in Egypt this weekend, Mr Blair said: “Yes democracy is important, but democracy is not on its own sufficient. You also need efficacy. You need effective government taking effective decisions.” Praising Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who has been accused of serious human rights abuses since coming to power in 2013, Mr Blair continued: “I don’t think you have to be authoritarian, but you have to be direct.”

Mr Blair was appointed to provide economic advice to President Sisi in July last year. The former general seized power from President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013.

 

An Amnesty International report, also published in July last year, reported “a surge in arbitrary arrests, detentions and harrowing incidents of torture and deaths in police custody” in Egypt under Sisi.

Tonight it was reported that Mr Blair is preparing to step back from his controversial diplomatic role as peace envoy for the Quartet Middle East Peace Negotiators.

The former prime minister has apparently recognised that his poor relations with senior Palestinian Authority figures and wide ranging business interests mean his frontline role is no longer viable.

The Financial Times claimed that Mr Blair had met John Kerry, the US secretary of state, to discuss a potential job change.   One senior diplomat told the newspaper: “It is long overdue. He has been ineffective in this job. He has no credibility in this part of the world.”

Mr Blair is said to be keen to remain part of the peace process, but is being “eased out” of his current role by the Quartet, which represents the EU, the UN, the US and Russia, according to senior diplomats.

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