Opposition alliance calls for joint protests, vigils

A coalition of four major Egyptian opposition parties–Al-Wafd, Al-Tagamu, Al-Nasseri and Al-Gabha–wrapped up a conference devoted to constitutional reform on Monday. In a closing statement, coalition spokesmen called on political opposition forces to cooperate in organizing protest marches and vigils and to adopt a unified position vis-a-vis upcoming parliamentary elections.

According to the statement, the coalition’s joint call for change aims to establish a "civil state" with a "democratic constitution" that ensures social justice; guarantees private and public freedoms; protects human rights in line with international conventions; provides conditions for the peaceful transition of power; and lays out economic and social policies that safeguard the interests of society.

The statement goes on to note that the first step towards democracy must be the abolition of all constitutional articles that serve to concentrate power in the hands of a single person or allow the executive authority to dominate other branches of government. The coalition also demanded the annulment of all legislation that violates public freedoms and human rights, including laws governing the People’s Assembly, the consultative Shura Council, local councils, political parties, professional syndicates, NGOs and the press.

The statement went on to demand the abolition of Egypt’s longstanding state of emergency, which it claims is no longer justified. It also called for free elections supervised by independent judges and the provision of equal opportunity to all political parties and independents that wish to run in elections.

The statement concluded by noting that the bulk of the Egyptian people suffered from poverty, unemployment, corruption and a lack of infrastructure and public services–all under the rule of an authoritarian regime.

Al-Tagamu Party President Refaat el-Saeed accused the media of supporting the regime and denigrating the standing of opposition parties. Al-Gabha Party President Osama el-Ghazali Harb used the occasion to praise Mohamed ElBaradei, a potential candidate in next year’s presidential elections, saying, "ElBaradei and the coalition complement one another."

Al-Wafd Party President Mahmoud Abaza, for his part, criticized MPs that formally run as independents only to join the ruling party’s parliamentary majority once they had won. "Unlike political parties, independents have no clear agenda or platform," Abaza said.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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