Leading presidential candidate Amr Mussa said on Sunday he had better credentials than his mostly Islamist main rivals, and warned against plunging Egypt into an "experiment" with next month's election.
Mussa, a popular former Arab League chief who also served as foreign minister under deposed president Hosni Mubarak, said he had the background to lead the country out of its "crisis."
His main rivals in the May 23 and May 24 election include Mohammed Mursi, the head of the powerful Muslim Brotherhood's political arm which dominates parliament, and Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh, a moderate Islamist.
Asked in a news conference about the differences between him and his Islamist rivals, Mussa replied: "I believe it is a religious background, that's right, and for me it is a nationalist background."
"I believe that Egypt has been injured and Egypt has been mismanaged, and Egypt should not get into an experiment that has not been tried before in order for us to enter into a period of confusion.
"I want to do something for Egypt coming from all angles of thinking and of policy making, not a certain one that you should not go beyond," he added.
The military, which took charge of the country after an uprising ousted president Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, has said it would hand power to the elected president by the end of June.
The generals' critics, including the Muslim Brotherhood, say they want to cling to power even after the transition, through a pliant government.
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Mussa, who refused to criticise the military when asked about human rights violations during crackdowns on protests, said the military would answer to him if elected.
"The president will be the boss, the president will be the one who directs and leads the country," he said at the news conference for foreign media correspondents.
"I believe I can start from minute one as a president with my knowledge of the government and administration and the management, and also the connections in the world... that's what Egypt needs," he said, speaking in English.
Mussa faces criticism by some protest groups for his involvement in Mubarak's regime until 2001, but he said he believed in democracy and freedom.
He added that he would be willing to work with the Islamist-dominated parliament and senate.
"Egypt needs immediate work, to rebuild the country after the major shrinking in its fortunes," he said.
Popular for his firm stances towards Israel as foreign minister and as Arab League chief, he said he wanted "the best of relations" with the United States.
"I don't see any reason to refuse certain aid programmes," he said when asked about Washington's annual aid of more than one billion dollars to Egypt.
The country's economy has been hard hit by the aftershocks of last year's 18-day uprising that ousted Mubarak and during the subsequent turbulent and at times restless transitional period overseen by the military.