ElBaradei returns to Egypt politics with new party (AP) Associated Press) By SARAH EL DEEB, CAIRO, EGYPT 04/28/12 5:08 pm ET)
AP} ASSOCIATED PRESS
AP} ASSOCIATED PRESS Articles-Index-Top
CAIRO – Reform leader Mohamed ElBaradei launched a new political
party Saturday that he said aims to unite Egyptians and save the
country´s revolution from a messy democratic transition.
The Constitution Party marks a return to public life for ElBaradei,
who declared in January that he would not run for president and that
a fair vote would be impossible during a muddled transition period.
His pullout four months before the start of the presidential vote
dealt a blow to the liberal and leftist groups who were behind the
Jan. 25 uprising that forced Hosni Mubarak out of office last year.
The groups, many of whom had found in ElBaradei a rallying figure for
their calls for democracy in Egypt, had been badly defeated at the
ballot box in the first parliamentary elections after Mubarak.
Islamist groups, including the powerful Muslim Brotherhood and the
popular ultraconservative Salafi groups, emerged as the biggest
winner in those elections, capturing nearly 70 percent of the seats.
The young activists were also subjected to an escalating crackdown by
the country´s rulers, including referral to military trials, arrests
and media smear campaigns.
"The aim of this party is to save the great Jan. 25 revolution, which
has been derailed, and is almost aborted and to restore our unity,"
ElBaradei told a crowd of supporters and journalists. "When this
revolution started we never imagined the conditions we are and the
tragic transition we are living today."
ElBaradei, who received the Nobel Peace Prize for his work as head of
the U.N.´s nuclear watchdog agency, said a new organized political
group is necessary to unite Egyptians, and prepare the youth behind
the uprising for a political future.
"We hope through this party...to start anew to build the country on
the basis of democracy and justice," he said.
Fourteen months after Mubarak stepped down, the generals who took
over are embroiled in a power struggle with the emerging Islamists.
They dominate the parliament but complain the generals are
obstructing them. Many of their rivals complain the Islamists are
The presidential elections due to start on May 23 have been marred by
the disqualification of 10 candidates, including three front-runners,
and legal disputes.
In a major setback to the Brotherhood´s bid for presidency, one of
Egypt´s most popular ultraconservative Salafi group, the Dawa
Salafiya and its political arm Al-Nour party said they will back
moderate Islamist, Abdel-Moneim Abolfotoh. He is also popular among
some liberals and youth groups who launched the uprising.
The leader of the Al-Nour party, Emad Abdel-Ghafour, said the
decision was taken to allay fears among many Egyptians about the
growing strength of the Brotherhood and Islamist groups in general.
"We think Abolfotoh has a popular consensus, is more representative
and will bring together the different groups," said Abdel-Ghafour.
The decision boosts the chances of Abolfotoh but highlights the split
among the Islamist vote in the coming election. The Brotherhood
candidate, Mohammed Morsi, is being supported by a group of leading
clerics while other Salafi groups have yet to back a candidate.
Morsi and Abolfotoh face competition from two liberal former regime
officials, and the divided Islamist vote may play in their favor.
Salafi leader Abdel-Moneim el-Shahat, from the Dawa Salafiya, told Al-
Jazeera TV the divided vote will ensure an Islamist candidate will be
in a likely runoff. If no candidate wins an outright majority, a
runoff is to be held on June 16-17.
Meanwhile on Saturday, the ruling generals and political groups
reached an agreement overcoming some key disputes on writing the new
The process of writing a new constitution, which would set the
authorities of the next president, has been obstructed by fighting
among secular and Islamist groups over the makeup of the assembly
that will write it.
Abdel-Ghafour said the majority of the panel will be made up of
people from outside the parliament, a reversal of an earlier panel,
now dissolved, dominated by Islamists from within the parliament.
Egypt´s Christian churches will also be represented by at least six
seats. Church representatives had walked out on the earlier panel
because they were underrepresented.
Egypt´s official news agency said the groups also agreed that voting
on articles of the constitution will be through consensus, and if
that fails through a two-third majority.
These developments should calm fears of liberals and secular groups
who feared the Islamists would use a majority in the panel to push
through controversial articles, particularly pertaining to Islam´s
role in the constitution.
ElBaradei said his party, which has not yet officially registered,
aims to represent a moderate Egypt, and will be ready to work in two
or three months.
ElBaradei has often been blamed by his supporters for being too aloof
and for his low key approach to political action. His absence from
street protests, his preference for quiet political negotiations, and
his pullout from the race has also frustrated many. (© 2012 The
Associated Press 04/28/12)
Return to Top
MATERIAL REPRODUCED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY