El-Katatni calls for unity with opposition

Ahram Online, Sunday 21 Oct 2012

Chairman of the FJP Saad El-Katatni calls for unity between Brotherhood and other political forces to stem discord following clashes on 'Accountability Friday'; critics say calls are empty and vague

Saad al-Katatni
Saad al-Katatni gestures after winning majority of votes by members of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP)'s general committee, to be elected as their new leader in Cairo (Photo: Reuters)

On Saturday, newly-elected head of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), Saad El-Katatni expressed his intention to unite with prominent political figures such as Mohamed ElBaradei, Hamdeen Sabbahi and Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh in order to overcome recent disputes that came to the surface following the 12 October protest dubbed "Accountability Friday".

The FJP chairman called for the three prominent political figures to engage in a national dialogue in an effort to end disagreements, according to Brotherhood statements made to private owned daily Al-Masry Al-Youm. 

"The Freedom and Justice Party aims through an alliance with other political groups to achieve 50+1 per cent in the new [People's] assembly. But this time there will be a comprehensive programme that alliance members will draw up. This will ensure that once elected the majority bloc will work together within parliament," said El-Katatni during an interview with Reuters on Saturday.

However critics charge that these overtures have gone no further than vague press statements.

"We've been hearing this for 100 days now, and there is no trace of it on real grounds," said Nasserist activist and member of the Egyptian Popular Current, Fadi Iskandar.

Speaking to Ahram Online, Iskandar added that while welcoming political collaborations that aim to benefit the country he doubts the Brotherhood's promises will come to anything, especially given the group's track record.

The Nasserist activist further suggested that El-Katatni's statement could simply be an attempt to placate the opposition following anti-Brotherhood protests that recently swept over Egypt.

Disputes between the Muslim Brotherhood and opposition forces have grown following the events of Accountability Friday.

Protests that initially aimed at demanding the reformation of the Constituent Assembly in order to draft a a more representative constitution descended into a day of clashes between opposition and supporters of President Mohamed Morsi who claimed to have taken to the streets to voice their support of his policies. 

Emad Abu-Ghazi, spokesperson of the Constitution Party – founded recently by reform campaigner Mohamed ElBaradei, described El-Katatni's statement as being "vague".

"Yes, we do hope for a united vision among all forces for the sake of Egypt and society, but so far no official invitation was sent to the Constitution Party from the FJP," Abu-Ghazi told Ahram Online.

Abu-Ghazi added that his party had in fact published a statement on Saturday inviting all political parties to unite in reshaping the Constituent Assembly to draft a unilaterally agreed upon constitution that would preserve the rights and freedoms of Egyptians and strive towards social justice.

Meanwhile, attempts are ongoing by liberals, leftists and nationalists forces to create electoral fronts in the hope of stemming Islamist domination in the coming parliamentary elections.

Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists parties comprised more than 60 per cent of the now-dissolved parliament.

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