Egyptian National Alliance: A Liberal First Step

A man carries a gas cylinder and a cooking pot during a protest against high prices and the scarcity of gas, in front of Parliament in Cairo 27 September 2012. (Photo: Reuters - Mohamed Abd El Ghany)

By: Mohammad Khawly

Published Friday, September 28, 2012

The Egyptian National Alliance was launched a few days ago in an attempt by liberals to establish themselves on the political scene. However, the new grouping is struggling to define its next steps.

Cairo - The liberals in Egypt have decided to work together under the umbrella of a new alliance. They are following the current trend after the nationalists formed the Popular Current and the communists and socialists joined forces in the Revolutionary Democratic Alliance.

Calling themselves the Egyptian National Alliance, the liberals will stand together in the hope that they too can secure a place on the political stage.

After almost two months of continuous consultations and meetings between public figures, unions and political parties – such as the Wafd, the Democratic Front and the Revolution’s Tomorrow Party – the Egyptian National Alliance was launched under the auspices of the ex-secretary general of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, and leader of the Wafd party Sayyid al-Badawi.

It includes nearly fifty public figures, including the two ex-deputy prime ministers, Yahya al-Gamal and Ali al-Silmi. It also includes the founder of the Democratic Front, Osama al-Ghazali Harb; Hosni Mubarak’s secretary, Mustafa al-Faqi; and the ex-minister for provisions, Mirvat al-Tillawi.

Even members of the Alliance are not sure whether its aims are electoral or political. According to their conference, held last week to announce the launch, they are trying to establish their political positions and oppose clauses that curtail freedoms in the new constitution.

This aim was announced despite the fact that Moussa and Badawi are current members of the constitution drafting committee, and have not withdrawn from it like many others.

Members of the new formation have adopted an “Alliance Document.” It states that they believe in the principles of the revolutions of 1919 and 1952, and that their aim is to “establish the values of democracy and the modern civil state, to emphasize the principles of citizenship and the sovereignty of the law.”

According to the document, the Alliance also seeks to “secure basic rights and freedoms, guarantee justice, and confront any authority which attempts to compromise these principles, now firmly established in the conscience of the nation.”

Some members of the Alliance said that they believe they will contribute positively to a modern civil constitution, one that would guarantee that a modern state is established on the basis of democracy, and which includes the adoption of basic principles, rights and freedoms for all citizens without discrimination.

They also confirmed that the leadership of the Alliance will work to coordinate the positions of their members and to unite them, so that they can defend just economic, social and political causes.

They said that they will oppose any policies which are counter to the goals of national development and social justice, and will protect citizens from attacks on their rights and freedoms as guaranteed by the constitution and human rights charters.

The Alliance welcomed all political factions, parties, unions, alliances and individuals, who want to join “under the umbrella of these principles.”

Badawi said that the Alliance is the launchpad for a dialogue among Egypt’s civil forces, with an aim to create a united front in order to establish the principle of democracy and to protect the identity of the country and its civil character.

He stated that dialogue with other forces who have not yet joined the Alliance will carry on in the hope that they will join. Badawi emphasized that the new grouping is “not against any person or movement, it is an alliance for the sake of the Egyptian citizens and the issues that concern them.”

At the launch, Moussa said that he will seek to convince some prominent personalities to join his alliance – people like the leader of the Constitution Party, Mohammad al-Baradei, and ex-presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi.

“We are on the same wavelength as them and they are on the same wavelength as us,” he explained, adding that “our door is open to all. Our alliance is for anyone who raises the nationalist banner and participates in peaceful demonstrations, standing side by side with the civil movement.”

It seems like, for the time being, the Alliance will not specify its plans for the next stage and whether it will act as a united front in the next elections.

Furthermore, some parties which have been listed as members of the Alliance have come out to deny this, maintaining that they are still thinking about joining and have not yet reached a final decision.

The Islamists attacked the Alliance as soon as it was launched. The official spokesman for the Salafi Front, Hamed Mishal, told Al-Akhbar that the Egyptian National Alliance intensifies the argument about Egypt being an Islamic or secular state.”

The truth, according to Mishal, is that the people always choose the Islamists. He warned that “the liberals speak as if they own the people, but the reality is that they have no support in the street.”

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

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