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Opposition groups in Egypt's Mahalla to launch 'popular parliament'

'Popular parliament' will run in parallel with official legislative body and broaden scope of popular engagement in politics, opposition activist says; project to be launched nationwide soon

Ahram Online, Sunday 3 Mar 2013
Parliament
The first session of Egypt's post-revolution parliament in Cairo, January 23, 2012.(Photo: Reuters)
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Opposition groups in Mahalla, an industrial city in Egypt's Nile Delta, are planning to launch a 'popular parliament'.

Among the groups looking into the idea are the Constitution Party, Egyptian Popular Current, Egyptian Social Democratic Party, April 6 Youth Movement (Democratic Front), and Mahalla Revolutionary Youth Movement.

The move comes amid opposition calls for a boycott of parliamentary polls in April.

"A 'popular parliament' will broaden the scope of popular engagement in politics," said Shady El-Rakhawy, a member of the Constitution Party and the Mahalla Revolutionary Youth Movement.

The 'popular parliament' is part of our campaign to boycott parliamentary elections, slated to begin on 22 April, El-Rakhawy said. The initiative will be launched nationwide in conjunction with political groups.

Membership of the 'popular parliament' will be open to all citizens and it will run in parallel with the official parliament, El-Rakhawy added.

In 2010, opposition groups established a parallel parliament in protest at gross ballot-rigging in parliamentary elections by the Mubarak regime.

Egypt’s main opposition coalition, the National Salvation Front, has said it will boycott parliamentary elections due to the "unconstitutional" parliamentary elections law passed by the Islamist-dominated Constituent Assembly.

In the first post-revolution parliamentary elections in 2011/12, the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, from which President Mohamed Morsi hails, won around 47 percent of seats in the lower house, and 59 percent in the upper house.

In June 2012, Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court dissolved the Islamist-led lower house of parliament because the law which governed its election was 'unconstitutional."

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